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Drilling from a Submarine


Transformation of Submarine Technologies into Industrial Non-nuclear Under-water/Under-ice Technologies for the Arctic Offshore Drilling

Tech Area / Field

  • MAN-PDM/Plant Design and Maintenance/Manufacturing Technology
  • MAN-ROB/Robotics/Manufacturing Technology

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
CDB LAZURIT, Russia, N. Novgorod reg., N. Novgorod

Supporting institutes

  • "VNIINeftemash-NPO" Limited Liability Co., Russia, Moscow\nTechnology Assessment Unit, Russia, Moscow


  • Marintek, Norway, Trondheim\nSociety for Underwater Technology, UK, London\nLockheed Martin Corporation / Perry Technologies, USA, FL, Riviera Beach\nBercha Group / Bercha International Inc., Canada, AB, Calgary

Project summary

Project Objective: To conduct a Viability Study on conversion of the Russian ‘submarine’ technologies in to civil non-nuclear under-water/under-ice technologies of hydrocarbon production in the Arctic Region.

Project Contents: Development of an under-water/under-ice industrial technology of oil and gas production on the deep-water Arctic offshore as a way to re-orient the Russian scientists & industry experts engaged in the construction and operation of submarines to ‘peaceful’ products.

Project Impact on the Progress in the Field: As contrasted to the traditional ‘platform’ technologies used in the marine offshore engineering, the ’submarine’ technologies look attractive because of a possibility to place structures at the sea bottom and, thus, to avoid direct impact of super-low temperatures, wind, waves and ice on them. Due to this, the material-consumption, weight and capital investment into the engineering structures are 2 to 3 times reduced, and the hydrocarbons produced in the Arctic Region become competitive at the energy market.

The project urgency is supported by the following facts:

  1. In the 1980’s huge gas deposits were discovered at the Russian deep-water Arctic offshore. Under-water/under-ice technologies can be the most cost- effective way to develop the newly discovered fuel & raw material resources in the North - East Europe instead of depleting gas fields of the Yamal - Nenets district in the West Siberia.
  2. The world practice of the offshore engineering lacks economically acceptable projects of ice-resistant drilling platforms for sea depths exceeding 60 -80 meters.
  3. From the very outset of ‘perestroika’ the number of State orders has decreased in the Russian research & production centers of the military submarine shipbuilding, thus leading to the growth of social tension at the enterprises.

The project offers an effective way of elimination of the social tension and re-orientation of the weapon –submarine scientists to development of innovative civil high technologies, which completely meets the ISTC goals and objectives.

Leading institute – Lazurit Central Design Bureau Open Joint-Stock Co. Lazurit is one of design bureaus of the former USSR, and nowadays of Russia, engaged in the development of submarines carrying nuclear weapons aboard. Dozens of submarines not only with nuclear, but also with alternate types of propulsion plants, working and rescue underwater vehicles, bottom acoustic aerials for super-wide coverage stations which trace submarines, and a lot more has been built under its designs.

Since the beginning of ‘perestroika’ CDB Lazurit has been working in the field of offshore technologies, striving to find a civil application of its potential.

The Lazurit experience of cooperation with the ISTC dates back to 1995 (ecological projects Nos. 101 and 2254).

Participating institutes: experts of VNIINeftemash-NPO Ltd. (Moscow), Technology Assessment Unit (Moscow) and a number of other companies of the defense and oil & gas industry will be engaged in the project activities to ensure comprehensive coverage of all important aspects of the project.

Present state of affairs: The Lazurit Central Design Bureau Open Joint-Stock Co. has conducted some theoretical and experimental research and performed a Pre-preliminary Design of the under-water/under-ice industrial system. The results of these efforts have been repeatedly reported at international workshops and conferences, for example:

  • At the 17th International Conference on the Offshore Mechanics and Arctic Engineers ‘ОМАЕ- 98’, Lisbon, the paper title is: Under-water/Under-ice System for Hydrocarbon Production on the Deep-water Offshore of the Arctic and Far Eastern Seas ‘. Proceedings of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers -, 1998.
  • At the Joint EU - Russia - Canada - USA Workshop ‘A Common Approach to Collaborative Technological Research for Arctic Development’, Brussels, 2001. The paper title is ‘Under-water/Under-ice System for Year-round Drilling on the Arctic Deep-water Offshore (Gas Fields of the Near-Yamal Offshore of the Kara Sea Being Taken as an Example).

The under-water/under-ice drilling system of CDB Lazurit is included in to the Russian exposition of EXPO-05 in Nagoya (Japan) as one of the break-through trends of technical progress of the Russian industry.

It will be possible to implement this innovative project only through joint efforts of several countries.

Before starting a full-scale project of the system to be developed with the engagement of western partners, a Viability Study (A Project Definition phase, in other words) is to be performed. This Project Definition phase will address some problems, which arouse concern both of the western scientists and representatives of the industrial and political circles. This apprehension results in their doubt, that it is expedient to invest their capital in to the project before precise and unambiguous answers are given to the questions, causing anxiety of the West.

The scope of these issues is known, and the ways of their solution are clear. The major issues are industrial and ecological safety, commercial expediency.

The work is constrained by the lack of funds.

This very task is presumed to be accomplished within the framework of this project.

Viability Study Scope

The Viability Study will result in the:

  • Assessment of technical feasibility of the project of the under-water/under-ice drilling system;
  • Submission of patent applications;
  • Assessment of economic attractiveness of the project through a specific example of developing a gas-condensate field in the Kara Sea;
  • Assessment of safety and risk, while using such systems;
  • Provisional business-plan.

Role of foreign collaborators. It will consist of
  • Objective assessment of the fulfilled work,
  • Assessment of appropriateness of the accepted principles of reasonable sufficiency (especially while addressing cost –effectiveness, ecological safety and risk),
  • Producing recommendations on implementation.

Project results. According to the ISTC rules it is planned to present the project results to the collaborators and the funding parties and with their assistance to ensure the project promotion among the wide world audience with a view to find investors for the project implementation, and for the work continuation within the framework of partner projects and on a contract basis.


The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.


ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.

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