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Russia’s offshore energy projects in the Arctic

TASS has compiled a list of Russia’s offshore energy projects in the Arctic

MOSCOW, March 28. /TASS/. On March 29-30 Russia’s northern city of Arkhangelsk will play host to the 4th International Arctic Forum entitled The Arctic - Territory of Dialogue.

TASS DOSSIER has compiled a reference memo listing Russia’s offshore energy projects in the Arctic.

Reserves and production

According to the Russian Energy Ministry, Russia’s recoverable oil and gas reserves in the Arctic currently stand at 260 billion tonnes of equivalent fuel, or 60% of Russia’s recoverable hydrocarbon reserves. In 2015 the science doyen of the Oil and Gas Geology and Geophysics Institute under the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Aleksey Kontorovich, estimated Russia’s oil and gas reserves in the Arctic at 100 billion tonnes.

In 2016, the Arctic produced nearly 90 million tonnes of oil (17% percent of Russia’s overall production) and nearly 500 billion cubic meters of oil and gas (80%). At the moment nearly all hydrocarbon reserves are extracted on the mainland. Of the total 350 oil fields there 60 are active. Nineteen oil and gas fields have been explored in Russia’s sector of the Arctic in the Barents and Kara seas. Commercial production is underway only at one of them - Prirazlomnoye. Exploration work is in progress at more than 40 offshore fields in the Barents and Kara seas and the Eastern Arctic.

Investment into offshore oil and exploration in Russia in 2016 totaled 71.4 billion.

Offshore licenses

A ban on private companies’ access to the commercial operation of offshore fields in Russia’s Arctic has been effective since 2008. Most production licenses for the explored oil fields belong to Gazprom, including the Shtokman gas field. Rosneft holds the license to develop the Severo-Gulyayevskoye oil and gas field and conducts prospecting and exploration drilling in other areas. Before the 2008 ban LUKOIL had been licensed to develop the Varandey oil field. Rosneft, Gazprom, LUKOIL, Novatek and other companies explore other areas.

The possibility of letting private companies produce hydrocarbons offshore has been discussed for a long time, but no decisions have been made so far.

The sole active project

On April 18, 2014 Gazprom dispatched the first consignment of crude (70,000 tonnes) from the Prirazlomnoye field in the Pechora Sea in the Arctic. Oil is extracted from the stationary ice-resistant platform Prirazlomnaya (belongs to the Gazprom Neft Shelf company). Crude oil is transported by two ice class oil tankers: The Mikhail Ulyanov and The Kirill Lavrov. Two support ships help keep the platform going. Gazprom estimated the costs of developing the 70-million-tonne field at 126 billion rubles (roughly $2 billion). In 2016, Prirazlomnaya produced 2.154 million tonnes. The platform’s ongoing upgrade will increase output to 5.5-6 million tonnes a year.

Effects of sanctions

Before 2014 many of the offshore exploration projects were being carried out in cooperation with foreign companies: ExxonMobil, ConocoPhilips, Total and others.

In July-October 2014 the United States and the European Union introduced export licensing rules and then outlawed the export of goods meant for a number of oil projects in Russia related with deep sea extraction, including that on the Arctic shelf. All US companies stopped work on joint projects on October 10. ExxonMobil curtailed its cooperation with Rosneft in exploring the oil field Pobeda.