Norwegians preparing for historical Kara Sea drilling

About 100 servicemen will accompany the 27 year old West Alpha drilling rig as it this year makes its first ever mission abroad, to the harsh waters of the Kara Sea.


The work agreements have been concluded and the oilmen will in July be ready for a unique drilling operation in the Russian remote Arctic waters. A special 3 weeks on - 6 weeks off rotating scheme has been elaborated for the workers adjusted to the location of the field. According to, the workers will be brought to and from the rig by boat from Murmansk, a distance of more than 2000 km.

The semi-submersible West Alpha is owned by Seadrill, the major offshore drilling company managed from Norway and controlled by business tycoon John Fredriksen. It was built in 1986 and has so far operated only in Norwegian waters. The drilling is by many considered highly controversial considering the harsh climate and the complex ice conditions in the area. 

It is ExxonMobil which will be main responsible for the drilling operations. The company in 2011 struck a comprehensive Arctic cooperation agreement with Rosneft, according to which the the two companies will jointly map and develop the three East Prinovozemelsky License Blocks in the Kara Sea, an area covering 126,000 square kilometers.

This year’s drillhole will be made at the Akademichskoye, a prospective structure at the Prinovozemelsky-1 license.

As previously reported, Rosneft has picked the Vostco Yard for project design and concept development at the Prinovozemelsky projects. The Russian far eastern yard with experiences from the Sakhalin offshore projects, is expected to work closely together with Norwegian engineering major Kværner in the project.