29 сентября 2020  |  
11:12 PM  June 30, 2020

Engineers with ideas: how to make money on a "new value" for oilmen

© предоставлено пресс-службой ТПУEngineers with ideas: how to make money on a new value for oilmen

TOMSK, Jun 30 – RIA Tomsk. About 10 years ago Valery Rukavishnikov – PhD of the prestigious Scottish university Heriot-Watt – returned to Tomsk, everyone he met was surprised: "How can you leave Britain?" Three years ago he headed the Heriot-Watt Center (HW Center) at TPU and brought its revenue to a maximum – more than 100 million rubles. Details – in RIA Tomsk material.

Powerful base

The beginning of 2000 was a turning point for the Russian oil industry – companies gradually began to adopt the experience of their Western colleagues, introduce modern technologies and a modern approach to business in general. Locomotives of these changes should have been managers with advanced education. At the initiative of Yukos, TPU opened the Heriot-Watt Center, the only Russian branch of the most prestigious oil university in Scotland.

Graduates (HW students, as they call themselves) received double diplomas and started a “technological revolution” on the ground ...

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"In 2008, when I started working at Gazprom neft in Muravlenko. The construction of geological models of fields was a fairly new process. Now geomodeling is the norm. Machine learning, artificial intelligence are already familiar tools", – says Rukavishnikov.

By the way, the very fact of studying at HW did not guarantee a British diploma at all: if a student was not diligent enough ("I paid a million, I only need a jacket"), they could release it just with a certificate with grades.

“When in 2006 I went through a tough selection and entered a two-year program, it felt like I had stood still all my life, and then they kicked me – I ran and I can’t stop. I never studied so hard in my life”, – smiles Valery Rukavishnikov.

At that time, he had a bachelor’s degree in physics and technology at Tomsk State University (TSU). I entered there almost by accident: the recruiters who arrived in his hometown in Kazakhstan managed to convince that “physics – is the best of all!”, and Valery, who always had order with the exact sciences, went to study applied mathematics in Tomsk ...

But by the third course began to reflect: what next? I constantly asked teachers questions: "Why do I solve this differential equation? Where can I apply it?" “Well ... in the rocket and space industry”. – "What's more specific?". Not receiving specific answers, he lost interest in learning.

"The only understandable career track was moving to one of the closed cities, where all the job and salary steps were scheduled for decades to come. In general, I finished four years at four, stopped taking lectures in the fifth course and I was expelled.

However, thanks to the physics, I received not only a powerful fundamental base in physics and mathematics, without which it is impossible to study at HW, but also a certain system of values", – says Rukavishnikov.

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The student at HW is mainly paid for by oil companies, which then hire him. In 2015, after the big currency crisis, the industry greatly cut budgets and companies were unable to pay for the training of selected students. So, most of the guys paid this debt themselves for several years.

Return for opportunity

The HW diploma gave good starting positions in top companies. Rukavishnikov left to work in subsidiaries of Gazprom neft, first in the city of Muravlenko, then in Noyabrsk.

"I got a buzz out of work, but not from the place where I am. In my head was an image of the old, romantic UK, where I had never been ... And I decided to get a PhD degree in Heriot-Watt in Scotland, realizing that this will be useful for my development. I wrote a motivation letter, passed an interview and they took me", – recalls Valery Rukavishnikov.

Education was paid – 20-25 thousand pounds a year, but the University (Heriot-Watt) paid for Rukavishnikov.

He studied in a group with Professor Colin Macbeth, who had a very large research group - 12-15 PhD graduate students. The group made scientific products for the largest oil companies – Exxon, BP, and others, which paid the university for admission to participate in this consortium, while the university paid for promising students with this money.

“It's cool to get a candidate's degree at a foreign university. It's the experience of interacting with people of other cultures, integration into another world. I realized that I can do really cool things. I understood how to plan and conduct scientific research that will be in demand by the industry, what’s the role of professors", – Valery told.

When in 2012 Rukavishnikov with a PhD degree in Petroleum Engineering returned to Tomsk as an engineer at the HW TPU Center, no one understood this.

"Even my HW classmates at the Polytechnic said: "Are you out of your mind? How can you leave England!”. But one can only understand this only with a specific experience. The market there is very mature, and a person with a PhD, but with a Russian passport will be at the end of the line for a good position, even if he is superior in knowledge and competencies.

And in Russia there are a lot of opportunities to make a good career: oil and gas is developing dynamically, and the tasks here are now really interesting than in Britain", – says Valery.

For example, oil and gas companies are actively investing in digitalization, thanks to which unique solutions are being developed. So, one of the current research projects - is the creation of an intelligent system for searching for analogues of deposits.

“The field has certain indicators from the point of view of chemistry, physics, and geology. If you find a field that is similar in characteristics and has already been developed, it can greatly simplify the process of developing a new one. All the data is packed into giant databases, but it’s not possible to sort it out manually...

Gazprom neft uses a prototype of our system every day - they have a large project for the development of Achimov deposits, and our development saves them a lot of time, allowing to choose the most promising areas for drilling using AI", – Valery told.

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In 2017, Rukavishnikov headed the TPU Heriot-Watt Center. In 2019, its revenue reached a maximum (more than 100 million rubles). The “educational” part of the business - is a master's program and short-term courses for company employees (for example, in geology or machine learning).

Partnership relations

In Scotland, Valery Rukavishnikov saw: big companies with big money come to scientists only if they offer them something that will bring them even more added value, will create new value.

“At the same time, if you ask companies: “What do you want?”, they are unlikely to answer specifically - the solution is always born in dialogue, therefore it is important to constantly communicate with people who understand the essence of the process. At that moment, when large-scale research projects was born at Gazprom neft, we were close by and were ready to offer our experience", – Rukavishnikov said.

Another example of an effective dialogue – is the decision to train specialists for the gas block of an oil company:

“We started discussing a completely different topic, but in the course of the conversation it turned out that they have a request for “digital power engineer” – a specialist who will have high competencies in digital technologies (energy and gas – are closely related functions in the company). For this, students must be taught in a new paradigm.

We began to look at what our university has to offer, and it turned out that the Institute of Energy has just such a program, and now we form a picture together which modules should be inside the training. This is already creating new value not only for the company, but also for the university", – Valery Rukavishnikov said.

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