Chinese rig starts drilling in Russian Arctic

The Kara Sea is considered one of the most prospective parts of the Russian Arctic shelf. (Earth Observatory/NASA)
The «Nanhai-VIII» spuds this year’s only offshore well in the oil-rich Russian Arctic region.

The field is called Leningradskoye and the licenseholder is Gazprom Neft. But it is the China Oilfield Services (COSL) which is doing the drilling.

The field area is located off the coast of the Yamal Peninsula, about 4

00 km east of archipelago Novaya Zemlya. The semisubmersible «Nanjai-VII» in late June stopped over in Murmansk on its way to the Kara Sea.

It is the only well drilling conducted in the Kara Sea this year.

Company UTair confirms that it is providing helicopter services to the operation. From a base in Cape Kamenny, a site on the eastern shore of Yamal, a Ka-32 helicopter is a 24-hour alert for the oilmen. The helicopter crew includes medical personnel, the company informs.

Cape Kamenny is located an estimated 500 km from the drilling site.

Chinese and Russian interests

The Leningradskoye field is believed to hold a trillion cubic meters of gas and three million tons of gas condensate. It is one of several offshore oil fields controlled by Gazprom Neft, the oil subsidiary of Gazprom.

China Oilfield Services has on several previous occasions cooperated with the Russian company, including in the Russian far east. The «Nanhai-VIII» can operate on water depths up to 1,400 meters and . The drilling depths can be 7,600 meters.

The operation comes after Gazprom Neft in February this year announced a tender on the drilling operation with a cost frame of 1,7 billion rubles (€26,8 million).

The Kara Sea is considered one of the most prospective parts of the Russian Arctic shelf. In 2014, company Rosneft made a major discovery in its Pobeda field, a cooperative effort with ExxonMobil.

Data from the Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute show that key parts on the Kara Sea was ice-free in the last week of July.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Arctic offshore drilling too dangerous: Trudeau, Radio Canada International

China: China’s Belt and Road initiative moves into Arctic, blog by Mia Bennett

Finland: U.S. pullout from Paris climate pact condemned by Finnish leaders, Yle News

Germany: Cheap oil from the Arctic? Fake news, says climate economist Kemfert, blog by Irene Quaile, Deutsche Welle

Norway: Norway offers oil companies 93 new blocks in Arctic waters, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Record oil volumes shipped out of Russian Arctic, says company, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Swedes discover new Barents oil and gas, The Independent Barents Observer

United States: U.S. House inches toward drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska Public Media Network

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

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

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