Not to be outside the space technology orbit

17 Января 2011
В СМИ (до 2012)
National port business and navigation are in serious arrears to the world level in terms of satellite data application. Although, there are specialists and companies in Russia, who may generate popular competitive products that may be used on the cargo market. ScanEx Deputy General Director Alexei Kucheiko speaks about modern possibilities of space technologies for the maritime business.

"MP": Alexei, one of the topical areas of space technology application for sea transport is the ecological monitoring of sea surfaces. The article "Oil Spills in Black Sea: Truth from Space", published in MP"s issue #4-5 in 2009, contains a pilot project of your company together with administration of the Novorossiysk sea port. What this project was developed into?
— This was one of the most successful pilot projects ever. For the first time in Russian practices the satellite data was used to detain ships causing oil spills. Satellite images indicating oil spills were not shown to captains of the ships as a proof of their guilt, but served as a signal for a more detailed inspection of water treatment installations on these ships instead. If their malfunctioning was detected, fines were imposed on such ships. Within a half-year period of monitoring five ships were detected, made liable and penalized. By the end of the monitoring term the number of oil-content dumps has considerably reduced, ship captains became more disciplined. The project was approved on all the power levels, however it was not developed further on. The reason is the lack of funds: sea port administration is a federal public institution and is not authorized to handle the funds on its own. A special budget item is required for space imaging financing, whereas this solution is "stuck" between the ministries and authorizing agencies.

"MP": Are there any working projects on satellite-based monitoring of Russian seas now?
— Of course. For example, we have been conducting monitoring of water surfaces near the oil platform of Lukoil company in the Caspian Sea. The main goal is to find oil spills. The images, acquired from the 800 km high orbit show the current situation: ships, ice channels and spills with coordinates, square area and type that can be de determined. Monitoring of area of their activities by oil producing companies is a world practice. It is being applied by American and Norwegian companies, performing oil exploration and production in the North Sea. Our Norwegian partners often conduct imaging of one and the same water area for several customers: for oil companies, for regulatory agencies and for geological survey. Operability of data delivery may vary from one day to 20-30 minutes. Thus, for example, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) delivers the images 30 minutes after imaging, which enables to immediately send a patrol airplane to the sites of big spills.

"MP": For Russian it is more topical nowadays to increase the navigation efficiency and safety in hard climate conditions of the Arctic Region, where hydrocarbons produced at the Arctic offshore and other NSR cargos are to be transported. It is common knowledge that ScanEx has created a proprietary system of information support of the NSR. What is it based on and what are the perspectives of using it?
— Our country starts mastering again the Arctic Region that has already been rendered habitable sometime ago. One may engage in economic activities in rugged environment on a proper level only with information support. The concept of creating the "Arctica" space system was adopted in Russia for this purpose. Everything is very right and good in it with one exception - implementation of such a global program requires both financial expenses and time: 69 billion rubles from the state budget within 5 years minimum. But the ice channeling for ships is needed already now during the coming winter navigation season. Our system of information support with the network of ground stations in Moscow, Megion (it is the town in Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Area) and Magadan cover the entire Northern Sea Route and is an example of an efficient application of space technologies. Based on own infrastructure we offered services to the country to monitor ice situation in the Arctic Region. We won the bid in the tender organized by "Atomflot" with quite strict requirements: a guaranteed all-weather round-the-clock radar imaging (in polar day and night) of the specified water area along the entire Northern Sea Route and an ensured images delivery within tight schedule, basically in near real-time (1-2 hours after acquisition). The first experience of satellite-based information support of the summer navigation we regard as quite successful. Let me name some milestone events: first in the history of the Northern Sea Route ocean-class tanker ice channeling from Murmansk to China. "Baltika" tanker owned by Sovkomflot was escorted though ice blocks by ice-breakers. The first in our history trip of a foreign ship through the NSR was undertaken without stopping at Russian ports - the Norwegian bulk freighter passed from Kirkines to China (the travel time was reduced by 45% as compared to the one through the Suez Canal). The Norwegian company that has started its activities again on its mines in Kirkines due to demand in China and the possibility to get through the NSR plans to complete 7 trips next year. "Georg Ots" ferry boat, being "no-ice" class ship, formerly navigating between St-Petersburg and Kaliningrad, was escorted to Sakhalin by the "Atomflot" ice-breakers. We offered information support for these trips to help route the ice-breakers with due account for ice situation. As sailing speed varies in different ice situations, the trip duration depends on the correct itinerary. Space imagery - is the only cheap source of independent operational information about the ice cover status within quite a big footprint. We offer to the country the already existing and operable infrastructure for further development of ships navigation in the Arctic, step-by-step increase of intensive traffic and cargo delivery via the northern rivers. Within 1-2 hours the image containing the data about the ice situation in the Laptev Sea or near the Wrangel Island will be delivered to the customer in any part of the world via Internet. [...]

Published: AllBusiness (http://www.allbusiness.com/transportation/transportation-support-services-marine/15445633-1.html)

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