Russian oil producer sets self-driving trucks to work on Arctic tundra

Gazprom Neft said the trucks will service the Vostochno-Messoyakhskoye oilfield in the Gydan peninsula.

By Reuters - May 5, 2023
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A Gazprom Neft filling station is seen in Moscow. A subsidiary of Gazprom, Gazprom Neft is the third largest oil producer in Russia. (Vlad Karkov / SOPA Images/ Sipa USA via Reuters)

MOSCOW β€” Driverless trucks produced by Russia’s Kamaz have begun to carry cargoes across the snowy Arctic tundra for oil producer Gazprom Neft, the energy company said on Friday.

Gazprom Neft said the trucks will service the Vostochno-Messoyakhskoye oilfield in the Gydan peninsula. They will deliver cargoes across the 140-kilometer (87-mile) route, which connects the field with the Tazovsky settlement.

“The use of unmanned vehicles will increase the efficiency of the logistics of the company’s northern fields and increase the volume of supplies of the necessary equipment and materials,” Gazprom Neft said.

It also said the trucks are fitted with satellite navigation systems and may recognize obstacles on the road within 200 meters. The vehicles are using Russian software.

Companies across the globe have poured billions of dollars into developing the driverless technology they say will increase road safety and alleviate truck driver shortages.

Testing has taken place in a number of markets, but the technology has faced setbacks due to regulatory concerns on safety.

While the self-driving truck industry remains nascent in Russia, in the United States it is expected to rapidly grow over the next decade, with analysts estimating its size at between $250 billion and $400 billion by 2030.

Gazprom Neft is one of Russia’s leading oil producers in terms of use of advanced technologies, including in tapping hard-to-recover oil.

Kamaz also plans to use driverless trucks along the busy road between Moscow and St Petersburg, Russia’s two largest cities.

Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin.