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Transport modernization in Gazprom
Viktor Rakhmanko

Gazprom is dealing with a wide range of production and technological tasks. The company engages all types of transportation vehicles: air, water, rail, and road. A major task of the company is to transport personnel and cargoes in conditions of roadless terrain in the Extreme North, Polar regions, the Far East, Yakutia… Environmental requirements strictly regulate the use of transport vehicles in natural reserves with loose ground, which urged to create a system of land vehicles that enjoy high cross-country capacity and do not damage the surface layer of tundra and forest tundra. Gazprom jointly with Unified Transport Systems Company and the Bauman State Technical University in Moscow initiated the creation of cross-country light and medium wheeled trucks with super low pressure tires. Head of the transport office of Gazprom’s investment and construction department Viktor Rakhmanko speaks about the exceptionally important project, of which he is an author.

CROSS-COUNTRY VEHICLE PROBLEM

It is common knowledge that Gazprom invests considerable funds into gas field development in the North, the Far East and other remote regions of the country. The company has to equip its subsidiaries with modern special vehicles that are of high-quality, multi-functional, easy-to-operate and reliable, and mostly domestically produced.

The problem of designing wheeled and tracked cross-country vehicles has been partially resolved in the West. The most widely-used foreign equipment includes Foremost-produced cross-country vehicles (Delta and Husky models). Each of them represents a multi-purpose chassis of original design which can carry various technological equipment depending on the assignment: cargo platforms, cisterns, lodgments for gas pipe transportation. However foreign vehicles are very expensive and costly in operation. It is also a problem for us to timely supply the necessary spare parts, accessories and units.

Various tracked cross-country vehicles with different load and “soft” rubber-metal tracks are also widely used. Although wheeled and tracked vehicles have similar engineering and economic characteristics of fuel consumption, operating speed, maintenance costs, servicing, load-bearing capacity, and roominess, wheeled vehicles have an indisputable advantage for northern regions as they inflict minimum damage to the sensitive land surface.

Since the ‘50s of the past century the Soviet Union has dealt with the problem of wheeled cross-country vehicles and has resolved it to a great extent. It launched the serial production of special transport vehicles for driving on heavy-going terrain, including natural reserves.

Until now modern Russia had no serial production of cross-country vehicles with proper engineering and economic characteristics.

Our taskforce thoroughly examined the rich Soviet and foreign experience of wheeled cross-country vehicles. Analysis exposed considerable possibilities for the creation of Russian big-diameter wheeled carriers with super low tire pressure or special elastic wheels. The guideline is very promising. Gazprom, the Bauman University, and the Unified Transport Systems unanimously agreed that Soviet research, design, technological and production experience shall be used to the maximum in launching the serial production of cross-country vehicles in Russia.

YAMAL TESTS

Our joint research and development resulted in deep snow passability tests of pilot samples of special vehicles on the Yamal Peninsula in winter-spring of 2009. The test trials involved cross-country vehicles Ural-Polyarnik, Ural-Polyarnik-Technik, Ural-Polyarnik-Buksirovschik, Kharp, and a pipe-carrying trailer. The tests were staged in compliance with programs and methods designed by leading experts of the Bauman University to check vehicle reliability, maneuvrability and drive on heavy-going terrain, as well as loading and unloading. All tested cross-country vehicles covered over three thousand kilometers during trials.

In the framework of the decisions of Gazprom’s Scientific and Technical Council of May 20, 2009 on the commencement of cross-country-vehicles designed jointly with the Unified Transport Systems a test range demonstration was staged in August 2009 near the settlement of Labytnangi on Yamal and experts held their final working meetings. The event was attended by heads of road transport departments of Gazprom’s subsidiaries and branches, the leadership of the transport office of Gazprom’s investment and construction department, representatives of the Bauman University and the Unified Transport Systems. All participants in the demonstration tests drove the cross-country vehicles across heavy-going terrain with various obstacles: loose ground, difficult landscape, ups and downs, hillsides and riverbeds. The author of the article drove the vehicles himself. I can confirm the vehicles can easily overcome all obstacles and fully meet the requirements of Gazprom organizations to cargo and personnel transportation by road and roadless terrain.

It is important that plans and proposals regarding the creation of land transport vehicles based on wheeled cross-country trucks were submitted in a report to an expanded meeting of the Consultative council of the Russian State Duma transport committee in the framework of the United Russia Party project. The meeting was held under a symbolic title – Transport unites Russia. The Russian State Duma transport committee recommended launching large-scale practical use of our design.

SERIAL PRODUCTION

Wheeled cross-country vehicles with low and super low pressure tires allow to:
– drop the construction of driveways for laying linear gas and oil pipelines;
– deliver cargoes and personnel to produce gas, gas condensate and oil, build and operate trunk gas pipelines in difficult climatic conditions of the Extreme North, the Far East, and Yakutia;
– considerably decrease the harmful impact on loose ground surface due to high environment-friendly qualities of wheeled carriers.. Today serial production of wheeled medium-class Ural-Polyarnik and light-class Kharp-R vehicles began at production facilities of the Cross-Country Transport Systems Design Bureau.

The beginning or, better say, resumption of the serial production of special cross-country vehicles with the use of tractor units and assemblies and the existing design and production potential for the output of chassis, powered drives, special pneumatic tires, and composite-construction wheels allows to create in a brief time a universal, multi-purpose and multi-functional, economically efficient system of land transport vehicles capable of resolving transportation tasks of any sophistication.

 
 
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