Skolkovo remote resident Tatneft to locate in the innovation city soon

Alexander Minikh, the head of NTC Tatneft, would like to retain connection with Tatarstan fields

Tatneft JSC is moving from virtual space to real space of Skolkovo. At the beginning of 2018, the oil company is to open here a scientific technical center — five years after the signing of the partnership agreement with Skolkovo state foundation. Until the present, a resident NTC Tatneft [Techical Reserch Centre of Tatneft] performed R&D remotely from the innovation centre — from the walls of TatNIPIneft in Bugulma, but in the vicinity of the test field. How the research work of the oilmen will develop further — the question remains open.

''Smart'' office will occupy 10,000 square metres

Tatneft is to launch a multidisciplinary R&D center next year on the territory of Skolkovo innovation city, aimed at performing a wide range of scientific-research works for industrial enterprises within Tatneft group. The information on the upcoming concentration of the head scientific-technical center of Tatneft in Skolkovo has been confirmed to Realnoe Vremya by Director General of NTC Alexander Minikh. According to him, initially, when defining the concept of NTC, it was laid the idea that the R&D centre coundn't be exclusively 'mining' (i.e. aimed to develop technologies to enhance oil recovery). ''Tatneft is a vertically integrated company which unites oil and gas exploration, oil production, oil refining, tire manufacturing complex and composite production, therefore, the NTC must conduct research works in these areas,'' he said. Based on these needs, Tatneft completes the construction of a quite large building with a total area of 10,000 sq. m. For comparison, the Russian petrochemical company SIBUR is building along with Tatneft its own research centre in Skolkovo on the area two times less — 5,300 sq. m. The value of the building has not been disclosed.

The immediate construction of NTC Tatneft was conducted during last year, although the land plot for construction had been allocated long earlier and the design of the building was begun back in 2014. The delay in the implementation of Skolkovo project of Tatneft, as you can see, is significant. As Alexander Minich explained, the partnership agreement with Skolkovo Foundation for the construction of NTC Tatneft was signed in 2012, but immediate funding to the rhythmic construction of NTC building was resumed only in 2016-2017.

In December 2012, Victor Vekselberg and Shafagat Takhautdinov signed an agreement to open in the technopark Skolkovo a scientific and technical centre. Photo:

''The year 2014 broke us'': why the launch of NTC in Moscow is delayed

In December 2012, the president of Skolkovo Foundation, Victor Vekselberg, and then-director general of Tatneft, Shafagat Takhautdinov, in the presence of President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov signed an agreement to open in the technopark Skolkovo the scientific and technical centre. ''Tatneft would extract two times less oil without science. The development of deposits of bitumen needs innovations, with which the West does not want to share,'' said the head of Tatarstan. ''The science platform in Skolkovo opens up new possibilities in the development of mineral resource reserves.''

Why is the construction of the NTC is entering the homestretch only now? ''Big changes happened in 2014,'' Alexander Minikh explained to Realnoe Vremya. ''That year broke us much: the oil price plummeted, and we started to think whether NTC was really a priority or not? We decided not to freeze but to develop slowly.''

On the other hand, the territory of Skolkovo itself in 2012-2013 was not equipped with engineering infrastructure yet as it occurred on former agricultural land near Moscow region and could not accept new facilities of the residents. Already in 2014, Board Chairman of Skolkovo Foundation Andrey Burenin told that residents would begin to 'build' in 2015 -2016, as it actually has turned out.

As we have been informed in the press service of Skolkovo, the building of Tatneft JSC is a U-shaped four-storey complex. The building is designed in monolithic reinforced concrete frame. The colour composition of facades represents 'oil' and scientific achievements of the mankind in the form of a 'microelectronic device' (microcircuit chip).

Already in 2014, Board Chairman of Skolkovo Foundation Andrey Burenin told that residents would begin to 'build' in 2015 -2016. Photo:

Forteks started from ice arena

General contractor of the construction is the Kazan building company Forteks. The company has confirmed this information but refused to disclose the selection terms of Tatneft. However, it is known that Forteks long has friendly relations with Tatneft — already under Takhautdinov, this company began to build an ice arena in Almetyevsk on his initiative.

Meanwhile, NTC Tatneft, a resident of Skolkovo registered in 2013 after signing a strategic agreement, decided not to wait for better times and began to act on the basis of TatNIPIneft JSC, Bugulma. According to Alexander Minich, within the NTC there were established three laboratories that performed R&D for Tatneft in the 'remote residence' mode. That is, NTC Tatneft was present in Skolkovo virtually.

''What particular R&D? Associated with an increase of oil recovery and increase in super-viscous oil production level. Over these years, the NTC specialists completed some projects and are now starting their commercialization. Now it is the most important task,'' said Minikh.

To stay of not to stay in Bugulma?

However, with the completion of Tatneft complex construction in Skolkovo, they have confronted the question — whether the specialists have to move from Bugulma to Moscow. According to Director General of the NTC, the question is still open. ''Everything will depend on how we organize the cooperation (with Bugulma — editor's note),'' he says. ''If we move everything to the territory of Moscow, we can lose connection with fields.''

Alexander Minikh intends to retain 'mining' intellectual resource in Bugulma and to delegate the responsibility for know-how implementation to Skolkovo. ''It would be effective if part of the laboratories developed something here and introduced there,'' he said.

In his opinion, the presence of Tatneft JSC in Skolkovo can be useful for building contacts with foreign partners. ''Cooperation with foreign companies depends on what goals Tatneft, as the main customer of our business, will set for us. I do not exclude that if there is any task and a foreign partner wants to share know-how, the platform of the NTC can be useful,'' Minikh says.

After the completion of the complex in Skolkovo, Tatneft can become the first of the major oil companies of Russia that will be physically present in the technopark. This is due to the fact that most oil companies already have their own NTC in Moscow, so it makes no sense to build new facilities in Skokovo. But on the other hand, as it has already been noted, the petrochemical company SIBUR is completing the construction of NTC in the innovation city for development of the technology of polyolefins, as well as TMK (Trubnaya Metallurgicheskaya Kompaniya), which is to open a laboratory for developing and testing new types of premium threaded connections. Tatneft has already proposed to its partner, Schneider Electric, to create an accreditation and examination of technical solutions centre on the basis of the NTC.

By Luiza Ignatyeva

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