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Home / Issue Archive / 2007 / June #6 / Venezuela Goes for Russian Zeppelins

№ 6 (June 2007)

Venezuela Goes for Russian Zeppelins

By Sergei Balashov

Venezuela and Argentina are proposing a grand fuel pipeline project which will be laid across South America to become the longest pipeline in the World. They got one step closer to bringing this Latin American dream into reality last month when VNIIGAZ, Gazprom's top research institute, presented some of the equipment they'd like their Venezuelan partners to take a closer look at and use for building this pipeline. This cutting edge technology arrived on a zeppelin which landed on a cornfield a short drive away from VNIIGAZ headquarters just outside of Moscow.

The ceremony was a part of an official two week visit of a delegation from Venezuelan gas company PdVSA Gas, the gas division of national oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA, which is currently working on enhancing its relationship with Gazprom's research institute as well as employing Russia's latest innovations and technologies. VNIIGAZ' bosses believe this is just the beginning of a long-term partnership, and not only with Venezuela.

"We hope this zeppelin will be exported to Venezuela and we're going to work on the technical and commercial details of our agreement. PetroChina is also expressing great interest. We're currently trying to work out an agreement to sell them a zeppelin of this kind," VNIIGAZ general director Roman Samsonov told OGE. "Of course, we believe this zeppelin will be involved in implementing the fuel pipeline project in South America, the potential for cooperation and diversifying exports is really great. This is clearly a part of the strategy to diversify our economy from selling natural resources to exporting technologies," he added.

Representatives of PdVSA Gas, among them methane transportation control manager of PvDSA Antonio Prieto, superintendent of the central Dispatcher Office Arkimedes Amaya, and exploitation analysis superintendent Luis Gonzales, closely inspected the zeppelin, studying all the mechanisms inside and talking to the pilots for about an hour learning all the tech specs of its equipment.


The zeppelin, which can accelerate up to 110 km/hour, carries equipment that allows for the conducting of geological surveys and the building of 3D models of surveyed territories that are essential for pipeline monitoring, as well as for other key projects. The onboard Earth remote sensing system allows for geotechnical monitoring of pipelines, as well as the development of 3D models of explored areas. With the use of the infra-red imager it is possible to detect watered areas of formations and estimate the impact of corrosion. The equipment package helps perform geological and ecological surveys. The airship may land practically in any environment. Softness and speed of motion and in-flight reliability are the main advantages ensuring gaining higher quality materials for 3D terrain models. The airship is capable of continuous flight up to 1,400 km without refueling. The shell structure is made of multi-layer synthetic fibre, which, if required, helps bleed helium, and may be rolled up (the weight of its empty shell is 900 kg) and then transported at any distance.

"It is a historical event as this is just the second time the zeppelin's landing has taken place. This a joint project between Aeroscan company and Gazprom for monitoring gas pipelines," continues Samsonov. "We're looking for effective ways of monitoring and so far we think it's a great achievement for us and our Venezuelan partners alike. VNIIGAZ and PdVSA have been cooperating in this field for one and a half year. Three years ago we started cooperating on developing gas fields and, as of today we, have two joint ventures between PdVSA and Gazprom. We can say VNIIGAZ has great strategic partners and our scientists are high on demand."

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