The Chinese-registered Xia Zhi Yuan 6 heavy lift vessel could this weekend be seen moored in a fjord near the Norwegian Arctic town of Kirkenes after it had delivered the GSP Saturn to Russian operators.
Most likely, the rig is now placed near Murmansk, from where it will soon proceed to the Pechora Sea.
On its way eastwards, the Xia Zhi Yuan 6 on 11th June made a stop-over in the town of Vardø where it took on more manpower, newspaper Finnmarken reports. Before that, when based in the Dutch port of IJmujden preparing for departure, it was boarded by Greenpeace activists protesting against Arctic oil drilling.
As previously reported by BarentsObserver, the GSP Saturn has been hired on a 2-year contract by Gazprom Neft, which is to use it for exploration of its Dolginskoye field.
The Dolginskoye field is located close to the Prirazlomnoye field, the project which was the centerpiece in Greenpeace’s dramatic campaign in 2012. Then, Russian military forces brutally cracked down on the activists, who subsequently spent weeks in Russian prisons.
Greenpeace in late May boarded the GSP Saturn while based in IJmujden, the Netherlands. (Photo: Greenpeace.nl)
The Dolginskoye field is located 120 km south of the Novaya Zemlya and 110 north of the Nenets mainland. The field holds an estimated 200 million tons of oil equivalents.
According to the Romanian rig owner, the GSP Saturn underwent a major upgrade in year 2009, which included the installation of the latest drilling and marine equipment. The installation has also been specially prepared to withstand the winds, waves and low temperatures of the Arctic, the company Grup Servicii Petroliare informs.