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Science and innovation

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Sovcomflot is a world leader in developing and introducing innovations for maritime transportation. The company consistently improves its use of technology and equipment, adopts best international practices, improves fleet management, and enhances knowledge management strategies for employees, both seafarers and shore-based personnel.

Over the past years, whilst implementing its fleet renewal programme, Sovcomflot has worked on the optimisation of engineering and technical solutions designed to develop the transportation component of large industrial projects, including the year-round seaborne transportation along the Northern Sea Route (Yamal LNG and Novy Port projects).

As a result, Sovcomflot’s fleet regularly sees the addition of vessels with unique technical and operational capabilities, which ensure a competitive advantage in the harsh conditions of the Arctic and subarctic seas.

Sovcomflot regularly receives national and international awards for its innovative achievements:  

  • Sovcomflot has received widespread industry recognition and acclaim for its pioneering ‘Green Funnel’ initiative to adopt cleaner-burning LNG as a primary fuel for large-capacity oil tankers. In 2018, the company received the ‘Environmental Award’ at Lloyd’s List Global Awards 2018, and in 2019, Gagarin Prospect, the lead ship of  ‘Green Funnel’ tanker series, was named ‘Ship of the Year’ at the Marine Propulsion Awards and ‘Next Generation Ship’ at Nor-Shipping.
  • In 2018, a group of Sovcomflot’s employees was awarded Russian state decorations in recognition of their major contribution to designing and launching into service the world's first icebreaking LNG carrier, Christophe de Margerie. The vessel was ordered by Sovcomflot to provide the year-round transportation of LNG for the Yamal LNG project. In 2017, Christophe de Margerie was named the Engineering Project of the Year at the S&P Global Platts Global Energy Awards.
  • In October 2018, a multi-institutional team that included Sovcomflot’s employees was awarded first prize at the International Competition for Scientific, Technical and Innovative Projects, aimed at the Development and Exploration of the Arctic and Continental Shelf, held under the auspices of the Russian Government and the Russian Ministry of Energy. Together with their partners the Central Research Institute for Automation and Hydraulics and Bauman Moscow State Technical University, Sovcomflot experts were awarded for the development of technological solutions enabling the creation of an autonomous system for reliable and safe navigation in the most challenging zones of the Gulf of Ob.
  • 2018 also marked the first decade since Sovconflot began servicing Varandey project, operating a series of three advanced Arctic shuttle tankers purpose-designed for this task. The company’s contribution to the project was recognized by the Russian Government’s prize in science and technology ‘For the development and industrial implementation of innovative scientific, methodological, and technological solutions in the creation of an oil transportation system in Arctic weather and under ice conditions.’ In 2008, the tanker Vasily Dinkov, the lead tanker of this series, became a finalist of Lloyd’s List Global Awards in the ‘Ship of the Year’ category.
  • In 2019, Yevgeny Primakov, Sovcomflot’s icebreaking standby vessel, has been named the Support Vessel of the Year by Offshore Support Journal.
  • In 2017, Sovcomflot’s Arctic shuttle tanker Shturman Albanov was named the Ship of the Year at the Marine Propulsion Awards.       

Sovcomflot encourages the professional development of its personnel and welcomes further education and training programmes aimed at providing in-depth knowledge of modern technologies in fleet management. The Group’s engineering staff have highly developed scientific capabilities: currently 17 of SCF’s seafarers have completed post-graduate studies and have received a PhD in Technical Sciences.

In 2017, the company has published a unique training manual, Practical Recommendations by SCF Captains for Vessel Operations in Ice Conditions. In 2019, the second, expanded edition was published by Sovcomflot in partnership with Admiral Makarov State University of Maritime and Inland Shipping. The book has been officially recommended as a textbook for university students who study ship navigation. The book sums up the experience gained by Sovcomflot’s leading ice-navigation captains while operating vessels for large-scale energy projects such as Varandey, Prirazlomnoye, Novy Port, and Sakhalin-1. A special attention is paid to operating vessels equipped with Azipod propulsion.

Sovcomflot Group’s innovative activities are carried out in accordance with the requirements and methodological recommendations of the Federal Agency for State Property Management, the Ministry of Economic Development and the Presidential Council for the Modernisation of the Economy and Innovative Development of the Russian Federation. Priority directions for Sovcomflot’s innovative development are determined in accordance with Decree No. 899 of the President of the Russian Federation dated 7 July 2011. Sovcomflot has developed its own engineering school. Photo: specialists at the SCF Engineering Centre discuss project documentation.

The main areas of innovative activities and scientific, R&D and technological projects of SCF 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.

The Company regularly monitors and analyses the integral key performance indicator (KPI) of innovative development.  

The integral KPI includes the following four elements:

  • The level of R&D financing expenditure at PAO Sovcomflot. The target is no less than 0.4% of the annual net revenue.
  • The level of navigation safety and the Company’s compliance with customer requirements — the average number of observations from inspections by OCIMF member companies for all SCF vessels during the reporting period. The target is no higher than the industry average, which is calculated annually based on ship inspection results according to OCIMF and INTERTANKO data.
  • The level of operating expenses per vessel, determined as a percentage of industry average (based on data from independent analytical sources). The target is less than 100%.
  • The level of vessel crew costs, determined as a percentage of industry average (based on data from independent analytical sources). The target is less than 100%.

In 2018, the integral KPI of Sovcomflot’s innovative development was 114.07 per cent.