Norwegian ships accompany Chinese rig to Russian Arctic drill site

A Chinese drilling platform in the South China Sea in April 2018. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)
A fleet of supply ships surround the Chinese rig “Nan Hai Ba Hao” as it gets ready to spud a well in the Kara Sea, in northwestern Russia.

The Chinese rig also referred to as the “Nanhai 8” on the 6th July set out from Murmansk with course towards remote Arctic waters. Among the ships that towed the 15,469 deadweight ton installation was the “Siem Emerald”, a support ship owned and operated by Norwegian company Siem Offshore.

The rig is now on site in the Kara Sea. According to information from authorities in Murmansk, it will drill on the Leningradskoye and Skuratovskoye fields, two license areas located along the west coast of the Yamal Peninsula.

In the area are also several more support ships, among them the “Siem Diamond”, “Sea Supra”, “Norsea Fighter”,“Ocean Zephyr” and “Odin Express”, information from the Russian Northern Sea Route Administration shows. The latter two are owned and operated by the Lavian company Baltic Shipping. The former three are Norwegian ships.

The Kara Sea has been the main offshore drilling area in Russia’s Arctic over the last three years.

The “Nan Hai Ba Hao” first made it to the Arctic waters in 2017, when it drilled in the Leningradskoye license area and expanded the resource potential of the structure by more than 850 million cubic meters of gas to a total of 1,9 trillion cubic meters. The year afterwards, it was back in the area to drill in the nearby Rusanvoskoye area. Both operations were made in cooperation with Russia’s natural gas company Gazprom.

The Chinese rig was built in 1983 and is now owned and managed by the China Oilfield Service Limited (COSL).

Other drilling rigs in the area

The “Nan Hai Ba Hao” will not be alone in the Kara Sea. The Russian rig “Arkticheskaya” is also getting ready to drill in the area. The “Arkticheskaya” that is owned by Gazprom subsidiary Gazprom Flot reportedly set out from Murmansk on the 9th of July.

Still moored in the Murmansk port are Norwegian support ships “Sea Surfer” and “Sea Spear”, both operated by Solstad Shipping.

The hydrocarbon resources in the Kara Sea are believed to be of vast proportions. Gazprom controls the lion’s share of the license areas. Novatek owns areas in the Gulf of Ob and it drilled in the Severo-Obskoye license in 2018. Results showed at least 320 billion cubic meters of reserves.

Rosneft also owns major license areas in the Kara Sea. In 2014 it drilled at the field that later got the name “Pobeda” (Victory). The drilling was done in a major operation conducted together with U.S company ExxonMobil and results reportedly indicated resources up to 500 million tons of oil.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Premier of Northern Canadian territory frustrated by slow oil and gas development, CBC News

Finland: The world could transition entirely to cheap, safe renewable energy before 2050: Finnish study, Yle News

Norway: Another dry well for Norway’s Equinor in promising Arctic area, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Chinese drilling rig returns to Arctic Russia, The Independent Barents Observer

United States: Democrats continue fight against drilling in Arctic wildlife refuge in U.S. Congress, Alaska Public Media

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

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

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