October 8, 2014

ARCTIC SEA (North Pole): Russia's State-Owned Rosneft Says Arctic Well Drilled With Exxon Struck Oil.

France24 News
written by AFP staff
Saturday September 27, 2014

Russia's state-owned Rosneft said Saturday it had found oil in the Kara Sea off the north coast of Siberia in a joint drilling project with US oil giant ExxonMobil.

The announcement comes after the US targeted Rosneft, Russia's largest oil company, and its chief Igor Sechin with sanctions over Moscow's role in the Ukraine conflict.

"Oil has been discovered" in the University-1 well, Russia's northernmost, Rosneft said in a statement.

Sechin, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, said at the opening ceremony that the discovery was a "joint victory," and thanked "friends and partners" including ExxonMobil, quoted in the company statement.

The oilfield will be named Victory, Sechin said. In a sign of the importance of the exploration project to Russia, Putin took part in the launch ceremony in August via a video link to the West Alpha oil rig.

ExxonMobil said earlier this month that it would "wind down" the project following US sanctions.

The Treasury Department gave US companies until September 26 to bring to an end exploration or production ventures with Rosneft and four other Russian energy companies on deepwater, Arctic offshore or shale projects.

Rosneft said Saturday it is currently exploring three areas in the Kara Sea that are believed to contain 87 billion barrels of oil. It said the Kara area's total reserves could rival those of Saudi Arabia.

The Arctic zone has extreme conditions, requiring advanced technology and massive investment.

Oil drilling in the pristine region is opposed by environmentalist campaign groups including Greenpeace, whose activists were jailed last year after trying to board a drilling platform belonging to the Gazprom energy giant.


The Independent, UK
written by Ian Johnston
Sunday September 28, 2014

Russian energy company Rosneft has struck oil in the world’s most northerly well, some 250km off the north coast of Russia in the Arctic, the firm has said.

The discovery was made jointly with US firm Exxon Mobile in the Kara Sea, which contains reserves of oil estimated to be comparable to those of Saudi Arabia.

It is controversial because sanctions imposed on Russia by the US and European Union ban Western companies from co-operating with Russian firms in the Arctic and also because environmentalist fear drilling for oil could lead to widespread pollution in what is currently a pristine wilderness.

Rosneft said the drilling was “completed in record-breaking time” – a month-and-a-half -- “in compliance with all the technological and ecological standards and requirements”.

The drill site is 81m below sea level at the 74th circle of longitude.

The head of Rosneft, Igor Sechin, hailed the quality of the oil from the well.

“I can inform you about the discovery of the first oil/gas-condensate field in the new Kara sea oil province. The first oil was extracted. It is an astonishing sample of light oil, which based on the results of the analysis performed, is comparable to the Siberian Light oil,” he said.

“This is an outstanding result of the first exploratory drilling on a completely new offshore field. This is our united victory, it was achieved thanks to our friends and partners from ExxonMobil, Nord Atlantic Drilling, Schlumberger, Halliburton, Weatherford, Baker, Trendsetter, FMC.”

The company said it had carried out “detailed researches of the environment” before commencing any “geological operations”, including analyses of the climate, iceberg migration and wildlife in the area.

Greenpeace is running a campaign against oil exploration in the Arctic, claiming that it is “a dangerous, high-risk enterprise”.

“An oil spill under these icy waters would have a catastrophic impact on one of the most pristine, unique and beautiful landscapes on earth,” it says. “The risks of such an accident are ever present and the oil industry’s response plans remain wholly inadequate.”

In a statement earlier this month, Greenpeace said the Russian Arctic was “a risky place to do business, with a lax safety culture and an unreliable regulatory regime”.

Last year, Greenpeace activists protesting in the nearby Pechora Sea were seized at gunpoint and detained for nearly three months.

Exxon and Rosneft signed a $3.2bn agreement in 2011 to develop the region. Exxon said last week that the US Treasury Department had given it a short extension to wind down a rig at the well, beyond the 14 days outlined in the sanctions targeting Western cooperation in Russia's oil sector.

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