In 2021, the Department oversaw work on 106 research, development and innovation projects. In 2021, the PGNiG Group spent a total of approximately PLN 332.6m on R&D&I and hydrocarbon identification and exploration projects, of which at the PGNiG Group companies: approximately PLN 111.1m, at PGNiG: approximately PLN 221.5m (including approximately PLN 18.5m on R&D&I projects and approximately PLN 203.0m on hydrocarbon identification and exploration projects (at the Geology and Hydrocarbon Production Branch)).
In 2021, collaborative work was being carried out with scientific and research partners on ongoing and planned R&D&I projects of interest to the PGNiG Group.
Under the INGA (INnovative GAs) joint venture, implemented in partnership with the National Centre for Research and Development and GAZ-SYSTEM S.A., in 2021 work continued on the execution of four research and development projects selected in the first INGA competition, including two exploration and production projects (INNKARP, SYNERGA), one post-mining methane recovery project (AMMUSCB), and one alternative fuels project (DME). In the second competition round of the INGA JV, two other projects were selected and scheduled for execution, one in the area of ‘Underground hydrocarbon storage’ (KAWSOL) concerning the integration of RESs with underground energy storage facilities in salt caverns, and the other in the area of ‘Exploration for and production of hydrocarbons and production of gas fuels’ (Miocen 3D) concerning exploration for unconventional hydrocarbon deposits.
All those processes are co-funded by the National Centre for Research and Development. The total budget of the projects is approximately PLN 74.4m, including NCBiR’s financing of PLN 36.4m. The objective of the INGA Joint Venture is to promote long-term innovation and competitiveness of the PGNiG Group companies in Poland and on the global market through targeted and commercialisation-oriented implementation of R&D projects and partnerships with research institutes.
In 2021, Stage 2 of the MiniDrill project was continued. The purpose of the project is to develop a technology for the drilling of a number of small-diameter sidetracks, radiating in different directions from an existing well, which will enable the acquisition of additional hydrocarbon volumes (compared with the methods currently used). In this way, the technology is expected to enable enhanced recovery of hydrocarbons from existing wells, optimising the production operations.
The key events in 2021 include the launch of the ‘Processor’ Digitalisation Programme. The total budget of projects under Tranche 1 of the Programme was PLN 137m. The aim of the programme is to maximise the benefits of digital innovation. One of its objectives is to identify areas within the PGNiG Group where the implementation of new digital technology solutions would quickly deliver benefits from the business activities of the PGNiG Group. The programme will be implemented in several tranches, with 11 projects under Tranche 1, including advanced data analysis and predictive models, digital twinning, 3D imaging combined with passporting and preparation to work in a private cloud environment.
One of the projects covered by Tranche 1 of the Digitalisation Programme is the Smart Field project coordinated by the Geology and Hydrocarbon Production Branch. As a result of the project, a flexible cloud environment is to be created for dynamic field modelling. The use of hybrid cloud computing capacity will reduce the time of preparing analyses for gas/oil deposits and enable the process to be fully automated. The above efforts are aimed at increasing the recoverable reserves of natural gas in Poland and maintaining domestic production volumes at a stable level. They also contribute to environmental protection by optimising energy consumption and reducing the carbon footprint throughout the value chain.
In 2021, the R&D&I area pursued a systemic approach to securing preferential financing across the Group. Procedures were followed to organise the identification of aid programmes, the division of responsibilities when applying for preferential funding, and the external communication with competent ministries. As a result, the PGNiG Group companies keep track of the sources of financing within the current and future EU financial frameworks and initiate application procedures for the most interesting R&D&I and investment projects.
Activities were also continued within the PGNiG Group’s Strategic Projects Committee for the Research, Development and Innovation Area. The Committee is an important forum for strategic R&D&I activities, knowledge exchange and discussions to achieve synergies in key business areas.
One of the key initiatives promoting innovation in the energy sector was the ‘PGNiG INNOVATORS’ conference organised in 2021. The conference for employees of the PGNiG Group was an online event held from June 16th to June 17th 2021. The conference highlighted the role and importance of innovation for the operations and competitive position of the entire PGNiG Group. Innovation was addressed in the context of global economic developments and trends, with attention paid not only to the need, but also to the absolute necessity to search for novel solutions and remain innovative in the rapidly changing world. The conference was attended by more than 2,000 employees of all Group companies.