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Iran expands co-operation with St. Petersburg Mining University

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A representative delegation from the Empress Catherine II St. Petersburg Mining University paid a working visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran. In the course of negotiations with their foreign colleagues, scientists from the oldest technical university in Russia reached specific agreements on areas of joint scientific research.

Shiraz University acts as the project coordinator from the Iranian side. It is relatively young - it was founded on the basis of a college in 1946. According to world ratings, it is among the top three universities in the country. The campus is 3,000 hectares. 17 thousand students, 700 teachers, 19 faculties, 76 departments, 430 specialities. From humanities and medical disciplines to nuclear physics, IT and artificial intelligence. From nano and biotechnology to optoelectronics. From cyber security to veterinary medicine. Special attention is paid to oil and gas and mining.

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A delegation from the Mining University visited the university for the first time back in January. During that visit, administrators, scientists and young teachers from St. Petersburg studied in detail the methodology of the educational system of the Islamic Republic, its scientific component, were acquainted with the work of the enterprises of Fars Province, held a number of negotiations with representatives of Iranian higher education, industrialists, employees of government agencies. They defined roadmaps for possible co-operation.

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In the context of a mobilised economy and the solidarity of the population with this position of the state, there is no other option but to build relations with industry, paraphrasing the slogan ”Everything for the front, everything for victory”. That is, any research or development should serve the task of intensive technological development of the country. In Iran, this is exactly the case.

On their return to Russia, the proposals received were analysed in detail and on its basis, a competition between research teams was held within the framework of the project "Targeted Scientific Search". The grant holders travelled to Shiraz again, of course, having received preliminary consent from their Iranian partners to work together.

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Several promising topics were clearly "pulling" for future doctoral theses due to their relevance and demand for both countries. This was confirmed during the last visit.

Thus, on the basis of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science a joint research team was established to increase the efficiency of renewable energy sources, used, among other things, for power supply of drilling rigs and oil rigs. On the Iranian side, it included a team of scientists headed by Professor Mohammad Hossein Sheikhi, and on the Russian side, a group of Valeria Starshaya, assistant of the Department of General Electrical Engineering.

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"Alternative energy in the Islamic Republic is at the initial stage of its development. As in the Russian Federation, the main source of energy there are traditional resources. Obviously, the policy of two states with huge hydrocarbon reserves should take into account such a high raw material potential. That is, there can be no blind copying of energy strategies of other countries with a different context. However, the development of RES in technologically remote and isolated energy systems is still one of the ways to increase the productivity of the industry," says Valeria Starshaya.

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Iran, like Russia, is now studying the possibility of using solar panels and wind turbines to power low-power equipment. In addition, one of the options for their use is to supply power to residential buildings and structures near fields that are far from developed infrastructure. The aim is to reduce the use of diesel generators.

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The result of this research will be the development of recommendations on optimising the composition of generators and energy storages up to 50 KWT, based on autonomous power plants and replacing thermal power plants with imported fuel, their synchronisation, and instructions on optimal source control, applicable both in the Far North and in the Far South.

No less interesting is the project on technological schemes for the development of steeply falling ore bodies, which will be supervised from the Russian side by Kirill Anisimov, assistant of the Department of Mineral Deposit Development.

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One of the vital metals for Iran is chromium. It is a part of alloyed steel, railway rails, and aircraft engines. In addition, this element is demanded by the military-industrial complex as a component for the production of all weapon systems without exception. Accordingly, under the sanctions, it is difficult to purchase it abroad.

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Mining engineers in Iran have problems when developing their own deposits - there are many reserves, but the ore bodies themselves are very thin, their thickness ranges from 2-3 metres to 30-50 centimetres. In addition, geologists are not always able to accurately predict the location of ore bodies, and therefore miners periodically "lose" them.

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Russia does not have such problems yet - our deposits are thicker and richer, but they are also being depleted, and we will also have to switch over to the development of similar deposits. The parties agreed that the Iranians will be responsible for field and petrographic studies of samples of ophiolite rocks (raw materials for alloys) to obtain their main characteristics, and in St. Petersburg, on the basis of Mining University laboratories, the geological samples obtained will be subjected to geochemical analysis.

"There is no such equipment in the Islamic Republic. In addition, we will prepare a three-dimensional block model of ore bodies based on computer modelling materials from miners at Shiraz University. The result of the work will be an answer to the processes of ore formation of chromite ore bodies in ophiolite rocks, which will allow us to reliably develop deposits of this type," said project participant Kirill Anisimov, assistant of the Department of Mineral Deposit Development.

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But, of course, Iran's lifeblood is oil and gas. Fifty per cent of the country's budget comes from hydrocarbons and petrochemicals. OPEC data show that Iran has the third largest proven oil reserves in the world. It has a total of over 20 billion tonnes of black gold in its subsoil, and the geological exploration of the country's territory is about 50%. Iran also ranks third in terms of natural gas production with 256.7 billion cubic metres. However, there are about 150 hydrocarbon fields on the balance sheet of the state, of which only one hundred are exploited.

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In the process of development of oil and gas fields, mechanical impurities are carried into the well and solids are transported down the wellbore. The consequences of "sand penetration" are reduction of well productivity due to deterioration of filtration-capacity properties of the reservoir, formation of sand plugs at the bottomhole, as well as abrasive erosion of underground and surface equipment. Predicting the amount of carried and deposited particles is a priority challenge.

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At present, all oil and gas companies in the Russian Federation have wells on their balance sheet that stop due to "sanding" and the share of such wells is steadily increasing. In the Islamic Republic of Iran only in Fars province, there are at least 15 wells complicated by this challenge.

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"The result of a joint scientific grant from scientists from the Mining and Shiraz Universities, within the framework of the project "Scientific and methodological justification of maximum permissible depressions in the development of weakly cemented oil reservoirs", will be a scientific justification of the fundamental influence of physico-chemical processes, occurring in the bottom-hole zone of the formation on the softening of the rock. In practice, this will allow companies to reduce production costs at least, by more than 10%, due to the use of the developed mathematical apparatus, including both geomechanical and physico-chemical parameters for calculating rock fracture pressure for any point in the formation, depending on current factors," explained Dmitry Tananykhin, project manager from the Russian side, Dean of the Oil and Gas Faculty of the Mining University.

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A number of separate meetings with the management of Shiraz University were devoted to discussing the Mining University's approaches to modernising the system of higher technical education. The Iranian colleagues were particularly interested in the experience of cooperation with leading enterprises in the field of students' academic and industrial internships, as well as in the field of training of scientific and pedagogical personnel in postgraduate studies with a focus on the development of both scientific and pedagogical competences.

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"We would like to further explore Mining University's experience in training postgraduate students aimed at teaching activities for use with us. In addition, we ask Mining University to consider the possibility of preparing a separate 'Shiraz Postgraduate' programme with an opportunity for the most gifted graduates of our Master's programme to pursue postgraduate studies at Mining University," said Dr Ali Hafizi, Vice-Rector for Science and Technology at Shiraz University

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The St. Petersburg delegation was particularly interested in the visit to the "Institute for Citation and Monitoring of Science and Technology of the Islamic World" (ISC), which was established in 2008 and is currently the world's third scientific database after Web of Science (WoS) and Scopus.

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Этот институт, в отличие от РИНЦ, Scopus и WoS - государственная организация, основной целью которой является сбор, анализ и мониторинг массивов научных данных для совершенно различных целей, начиная с оценки работы преподавателей и заканчивая распределением государственного финансирования университетов, поскольку здесь не доверяют информации из зарубежных баз данных.

This institute, unlike RINC, Scopus and WoS, is a state organisation, the main purpose of which is to collect, analyse and monitor arrays of scientific data for quite different purposes, from the evaluation of teachers' work to the distribution of state funding for universities, since information from foreign databases is not trusted here.

The Institute, which is active internationally despite the sanctions, is also a competitor of the main international rankings - QS, Leiden, ARWU, THE. As part of the Institute's current work, three university rankings are compiled: international, Islamic countries and Iran. The criteria are almost identical to those of QS.

The Institute's activities have a strong influence on the growth of the quality of scientific publications by authors from the Islamic world. For example, only in the last decade the number of publications indexed in Scopus has increased by countries: Indonesia - 8 times, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan - 4 times, Egypt - 3 times, Turkey and Iran - 2 times.

"Cooperation with Mining University is strategically important for us. As part of the activities of the established joint scientific groups, it is necessary that a wide range of specialists through ISC knows the scientific results obtained. We are also ready to interact with the journal 'Notes of the Mining Institute', to include Mining University in its ranking," said Dr Ahmad Fazelzadeh Haghighi, Director of the Institute.

записки горного института
SCImago research group has updated its influential annual international ranking of scientific journals. The publication of St. Petersburg Mining University ’Journal of Mining Institute’ has become the best of 566 Russian journals indexed by the world’s leading Scopus database. It ranks first in the country in all three of its subject areas - geology, geotechnology and economics. In the latter two, ’Journal of Mining Institute’ became the only journal with Russian jurisdiction to make it into the first quartile.

During the visit, the Mining University delegation also paid a working visit to the Research Institute of Petroleum Industry (RIPI), located in the capital Tehran, and attended a full course on "Industrial Cyber Security" in English. At the meeting with the authorised representative of the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology of Iran, it was confirmed the readiness within the framework of the state programme to provide methodological, informational and financial support to such joint activities of Mining University and Shiraz University. These activities are such as conducting scientific research, summer/winter schools for students of both universities, inviting leading scientists for short-term educational programmes and participation in scientific events. However, this topic shall be discussed in the format of the next articles.

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