Areas of innovative activities

Sovcomflot is a world leader in developing and implementing innovations in the field of maritime transport. The Groups is actively and consistently improving technologies and equipment, implementing international best practices, improving fleet management and enhancing the scientific potential of employees, including seafarers and land-based specialists.

Sovcomflot Group’s innovative activities are carried out in accordance with the requirements and methodological guidelines of the Federal Agency for State Property Management (Rosimushchestvo), the Russian Ministry of Economic Development and the Council for Economic Modernisation and Innovate Development under the President of the Russian Federation. Priority directions for innovative development of the Group are determined in accordance with Decree No. 899 of the President of the Russian Federation dated 7 July 7 2011.

The main areas of innovative activities and scientific, R&D and technological projects of Sovcomflot Group are as follows:

  • Developing the shipowner’s technical specifications for Aframax tankers with dual-fuel main engines;
  • Designing vessels capable of operating in the most challenging winter conditions in the North Atlantic for an extended service life of 25 years (equivalent to a 40-year service life of a vessel operating in other parts of the world’s ocean).
  • Factoring in new shipbuilding regulations into strength calculations and fatigue characteristics of hull structures.
  • Conducting research, calculations and experiments to select optimal parameters for ship power plants in terms of energy efficiency and environmental impact reduction, as well as to select optimal hull shapes and parameters for propeller-rudder systems.

Sovcomflot stimulates professional development among its staff and encourages employees to pursue additional education in order to gain in-depth knowledge of modern technologies used in fleet operations. Our engineering staff have high scientific potentials: currently, 17 seafarers, who completed post-graduate studies and received the title of Candidate of Technical Sciences or are preparing to defend their theses, work in the Company’s fleet.

At the end of 2018, an operational centre for real-time vessel tracking was opened at the Sovcomflot headquarters in St. Petersburg.

The centre performs the following tasks using artificial intelligence:

  • Controlling and analysing navigation safety data.
  • Optimising ship routes taking into account hydrodynamics, weather conditions, and business objectives.
  • Monitoring the ship’s operation in real time (collecting and processing the ship’s navigation and technical performance parameters, video feeds from surveillance cameras).
  • Voyage planning: selecting electronic maps and guides, preparing a request and ordering maps for a voyage.
  • Special Arctic navigation control capabilities: analysis of meteorological and ice conditions and movements of ships, identification of hazardous ice formations and areas with difficult ice conditions, development of recommendations for masters and determination of the safest route in ice conditions.
  • Control and analysis of the performance of the ship’s systems in terms of energy efficiency, bunker consumption, etc.
  • Remote access to the ship’s systems, log of faults, etc. for onshore specialists to analyse the technical condition of the ship in case of malfunctions in ship systems and help crews to fix faults.

Key achievements in innovation and R&D

  • Sovcomflot won the Environment Award — Individual Company at the Lloyd’s List Global Awards 2018. The initiative for using LNG as the primary fuel for large-capacity tankers was highly appreciated by experts. In 2018, Sovcomflot put into operation the world’s first Aframax crude oil tankers specially designed to use LNG as the primary fuelFor more detailed information about this series of vessels, see section 3.2.2. of this Report, Implementation of investment projects — Key results, and section 6.4. Environmental protection..
    Yevgeny Primakov , a multifunctional icebreaking platform supply vessel put into operation in January 2018For more detailed information about the vessel, see section "Implementation of investment projects — Key results"., was named Support Vessel of the Year by Offshore Support Journal, an international trade publication.
  • By the Decree of Russian President Vladimir Putin dated 2 March 2018 a group of seagoing personnel and employees of onshore units of PAO Sovcomflot was honoured with high state awards for major contribution to the implementation of the project for creating the world’s first icebreaking LNG tanker, Christophe de Margerie . The tanker was specially designed and built to order for Sovcomflot to enable the safe year-round transportation of liquefied gas for the Yamal LNG project. Operations under the project started in December 2017.
  • PAO Sovcomflot employees, in collaboration with specialists from the Central Research Institute of Automatics and Hydraulics and Bauman Moscow State Technical University, prepared a research paper on the topic "Development of technological solutions enabling the creation of an autonomous system for safe and reliable navigation in the most challenging zones of the Gulf of Ob". The research was performed as part of the international competition of scientific, scientific-technical and innovative developments aimed at the development and exploration of the Arctic and continental shelf in 2018, conducted with the support of the Government of the Russian Federation. The paper won the first prize at the competition.
  • A new edition of a unique training manual, Practical Recommendations by SCF Captains for Vessel Management under Ice Conditions, was prepared in 2018. The author team is comprised of ice captains of Sovcomflot ships that participated in the implementation of industrial Arctic projects. The manual is based on the consolidated and systematised experience gained in working on the Sakhalin-1, Varandey, Prirazlomnoye and Novy Port projects. In the new edition, practical recommendations on the use of Azipod propulsion units to manoeuvre Arctic shuttle tankers were complemented by experience in using them in heavy ice conditions in the Kara Sea and the Gulf of Ob. The updated manual was published and distributed to the SCF fleet and Russian maritime universities and training centres in January 2019.
  • 2018 marks ten years since SCF vessels began servicing the Varandey Project. The Company’s participation in the project was recognised by the Russian Government award in science and technology "for the development and industrial implementation of innovative scientific, methodological and technological solutions for the establishment of an oil transportation system in the seas of the Arctic Ocean". This involves the construction and operation of a unique series of Vasily Dinkov-class Arctic shuttle tankers. In 2008, the tanker Vasily Dinkov was also among the finalists for the prestigious Ship of the Year award from leading shipping publication Lloyd’s List.

Financing of innovative activities

The financing of R&D, engineering activities, professional training, retraining and skill improvement of PAO Sovcomflot personnel in 2018 amounted to USD5.3 million.

Structure of R&D expenses in 2018, %