Italian Arctic strategy unfolding in Russian oil

The Fincantieri company intends to build a lion's share of Russia's new Arctic drillships.

The Italian shipbuilding company Fincantieri is to build a €1 billion drillship able to operate in up to 1,5 meters thick ice in the Russian Arctic.


The deal was signed during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Trieste, Italy, this week. The vessel will be able to navigate in ice up to 1.5 metres thick and ambient temperatures of -40°C and will have a 4-month operational autonomy, the Italian company informs in a press release. The deal, worth an estimated €1 billion, will open the way for a number of more similar deals, the yard says. The ships will be built in cooperation with the Russian Krylov State Research Centre.

The Fincantieri agreement was among a total of 28 deals concluded during Putin’s Italy tour. Among the other deals is the establishment of a €1 billion joint investment fund.

The construction of the drillship is part of an extensive Italian-Russian cooperation in the Arctic. From before, several major Italian companies are active in the region. Among them is Eni, which is cooperating with Rosneft over the development of the highly perspective Fedynsky and Sredne-Barentsevsky structures in the Barents Sea. As previously reported, Rosneft believes the total resource potential in the two areas is close to 26 billion barrels of oil equivalents. Seismic mapping of the area started in 2003 and will be followed up with a total of 9700 km of 2D mapping and 2000 square km of 3D mapping by year 2020.

Meanwhile, Italy fortifies its Arctic policies. In May 2013, the country won formal status as permanent observer state in the Arctic Council.  

Fincantieri believes its contract with the Krylov institute ultimately will be followed by a series of similar deals. According to the company, Russia will need a dozen of similar drillships by year 2030.

The Krylov Institute is a leading Russian ship design center. It has been instrumental in the development of several offshore installations, among them the Prirazlomnaya platform.

The Arctic industrial cooperation between Italy and Russia comes on the backdrop of a rapidly developing economic cooperation between the countries. Trade turnover in the period January-September increased by 24 percent and could by year’s end amount to €50 billion, Putin said in his meeting with Italian PM Enrico Letta.