ARKHANGELSK, November 9 (Itar-Tass) - The first Russian offshore Arctic ice-resistant oil rig Prirazlomnaya in the Pechora Sea will begin oil extraction in December, the press service of the Nenets regional administration told Itar-Tass on Saturday after Governor Igor Fedorov met with Alexander Dyukov, chairman of the board of the Gazprom Neft company, to which the rig belongs.
Last September, the Arctic Sunrise icebreaker with Greenpeace activists aboard approached the rig to stage an action of protest against Arctic oil drilling. Their action was stopped, and all who were aboard were arrested.
The rig was installed on the Prirazlomnaya oil field, about 60 km off the coast, on August 26, 2011. The platform weighing more than 500,000 t is a kind of an artificial island fixed in the sea.
The Sovkomflot company specially has built two icebreaking tankers to carry oil from the rig. Two icebreakers are also built to deliver supplies to the platform for its year-round operation.
The icebreaker Arctic Sunrise flying a Dutch flag on September 18 approached the Prirazlomnaya rig, and activists who were aboard attempted to climb up the platform, protesting against Arctic offshore oil drilling. Border guards stopped their actions, and all the people aboard were detained and taken into custody in the north Russian city of Murmansk. In early October, a court in Murmansk issued a warrant to arrest all the 30 people, citizens of 18 states, including four Russians. All were charged with piracy. Later, the authorities changed the charge to hooliganism, cutting the maximum jail sentence they face to seven years.