Washington bans Russia’s main Arctic oil driller

Gazprom Nedra is one of Russia’s biggest oil and gas service companies and operates several of the rigs used for exploration of the country’s Arctic shelf. (Gazprom Nedra)

Company Gazprom Nedra could face serious trouble in Arctic shelf exploration as it is included in an updated U.S sanctions list.

The subsidiary company of Russian natural gas producer Gazprom will soon experience additional problems with getting access to equipment and technology and working with foreign partners.

Along with several more Russian companies operating in the Arctic, Gazprom Nedra is included in the updated sanctions list issued by the U.S Treasury on the 14th of September.

Gazprom Nedra is one of Russia’s biggest oil and gas service companies and operates several of the rigs used for exploration of the country’s Arctic shelf.

As the sanctions were announced, the company’s rig Arkticheskaya was busy with well drilling in the Kara Sea. In a media report, the company shows how it this summer has followed up preparedness and security during drilling operations with the rig.

Ability to obtain technology will be affected

Over the last years, the Arkticheskaya has made several discoveries in Russian Arctic waters, including in the Skuratovskoye license area in the Kara Sea.

Gazprom Nedra also operates the Severnoye Siyanie, the semi submersible rig that over the last couple of years has drilled several wells in the Kara Sea. After well drilling in the Barents Sea this summer, the rig was in September towed along the Northern Sea Route to Russian far eastern waters.

Semisubmersible rig Severnoye Siyanie has drilled several wells in the Barents Sea and Kara Sea over the past couple of years. It was moved to the Russian Pacific in September 2023. (Gazprom Nedra)

The sanctions against Gazprom Nedra will affect its ability to obtain technology and cooperate with international partners. They could ultimately also compromise security as it becomes harder for the company to obtain spare parts and equipment.

But consequences for Gazprom will not be significant, says Mikhail Krutikhin.

According to the Russian journalist and oil industry expert, Gazprom does not pursue a comprehensive exploration program in the Arctic today.

“These sanctions will not affect it noticeable,” he says to the Barents Observer.

Krutikhin left Russia following the full-scale onslaught on Ukraine and today lives in Norway.

The Russian oil and gas industry’s main Arctic focus areas are today onshore in the Yamal, Gydan and Taymyr.

For follow-up of offshore license obligations, the companies are likely to find ways to circumvent the U.S sanctions. That could include the commissioning of Gazprom Shelf Project, the company controlled by Andrei Patrushev, the son of Russia’s powerful security hawk Nikolai Patrushev.

Patrushev and the Gazprom Shelf Project now looks set to become the main contractor on shelf exploration for both Gazprom and Novatek.

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Bill requiring First Nations’ oil and gas development consent spiked in Yukon

Norway: Norway’s oil minister: “We need new discoveries”, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Growth in Arctic shipping warrants Polar Code adjustments, say experts, Eye on the Arctic

United States: Indigenous leaders divided over ANWR court ruling, Eye on the Arctic

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

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

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