”We plan to invest $400 billion on the Arctic shelf over the first 20 years”, Rosneft President Igor Sechin said at this week’s top-level meeting on energy sector developments.
However, it was the Russian East which was on top of the agenda in the meeting. Talking to an audience of top energy company representatives and officials, President Putin stressed that the energy resources of the Eastern Siberia and the Far East now are of key importance for the country in order to guarantee continued economic growth. This is especially so ”considering the crisis trends on the world markets and the consequent volatility”, Putin said, a transcript from the meeting reads.
In the meeting, President Putin also implicitely indicated that an end to Gazprom’s pipe gas export monopoly could be immanent.
The importance of the Asian-Pacific region for Russia is increasing rapidly as relations with the EU are strained and several grand contracts are signed with China and other eastern countries. Both Rosneft and gas monopolist Gazprom have made the region their top priority area.
Ultimately, that could come at the expence of projects in the western part of the Russian Arctic. Gazprom has already put several projects in the Barents Sea on hold. Rosneft has several major offshore licenses to prospective Barents Sea fields, but is it unlike to be able to put any of them into production over the next 20 years. The Perseevsky project, which is to be developed together with Statoil, and the Fedynsky and Tsentralno-Barentsevsky, which are together with Eni, do include the drilling of a first exploration well before year 2020. However, a field development process could take decades.