No more licenses on Russian shelf

Gazprom Neft operates Russia's only offshore Arctic oil field, the Prirazlomnoye. (Gazprom Neft)
Gazprom Neft operates Russia’s only offshore Arctic oil field, the Prirazlomnoye. (Gazprom Neft)
Enough is enough, the country’s Ministry of Natural Resources hints as license holders fail to meet obligations.

In a letter to government, Minister of Natural Resources Sergey Donskoy proposes to suspend new license rounds on the country’s shelf. The reason is that the two state companies Gazprom and Rosneft have requested amended license terms and postponements in a number of the their Arctic projects.

«The Ministry considers it advisable that the issuing of licenses to fields on the continental shelf is halted», the letter reads, RIA Novosti reports.

The proposal is also connected with an ongoing change in the ministry’s license procedures, Donskoy explains. New regulations will clearly define procedural judgement in cases when both Gazprom and Rosneft bid for the same licenses.

Disputes over Arctic fields

Over the last years, the two state companies have ended up in bitter disputes over prospective Arctic fields. Among the disputed fields has been the Murmanskoye in the Barents Sea.

According to Russian legislation, only state companies with experiences from shelf development are entitled to operated offshore licenses. That has efficiently pushed all companies except Gazprom and Rosneft out of the contest.

Donskoy confirms that his ministry will handle license bids which already have been submitted, but that new bids will be put on ice. According to RIA Novosti, no new licenses have been issued since May.

Rosneft today controls more than 40 offshore licenses, among which six are in the Barents Sea, eight in the Pechora Sea, four in the Kara Sea, four in the Laptev Sea and four in the East Siberian Sea.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada:  Canada ponders exceptions to relief well rule for Arctic oil drilling, Alaska Dispatch

Finland: Solar and wind power yield cheapest energy say Finnish experts, Yle News

Greenland: #SavetheArctic… from Greenpeace, Blog by Heather Exner-Pirot

Iceland:  From Arctic Circle 2013-2014, a big drop in the price of oil, Blog by Mia Bennett

Norway:  How new Barents oil licenses can help build Russia-Norway ties, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia:  Lukoil eyes new Arctic licenses, The Independent Barents Observer

United States:  Alaska oil advocates urge Obama to leave Arctic drilling options open, Alaska Dispatch News


Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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