Rosneft starts exploration at northernmost Arctic frontier

The ice boundary between Svalbard and Franz Josef's Land is important areas for the Polar bear.

Five fields are up for geological exploration this summer, included one area near the ice boundary east of Svalbard where Statoil is partner.


Last summer, Russia’s largest oil-company, Rosneft, did seismic surveys at the Fedynsky and Central Barents license areas where Italian Eni is cooperation partner 

This summer, Rosneft sails way further north in the Barents Sea for seismic survey. Studies will take place at five areas believed to hold up to 2 billion tons of oil and several thousand billion cubic meters of natural gas.

One of the areas to be studied more thoroughly is the Perseyevsky license in the northwestern part of the Russian sector in the Barents Sea. The area is located southwest of Franz Josef’s Land, east of Svalbard and is the northernmost license on the Russian continental shelf. If oil is discovered in this area, drilling could be controversial due to its location near the ice boundary. 

In May 2012, Norwegian Statoil signed a cooperation agreement with Rosneft to jointly explore these frontier areas on both sides of the Norwegian- and Russian maritime delimitation line the two countries agreed on in 2010, the first landmark deal among the Arctic costal states on dividing the continental shelf in the high north.

The signing of the deal on May 5th 2012 was overseen by both Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin. Two days later, Vladimir Putin entered the Presidential office for the third time, and later Igor Sechin was appointed CEO of Rosneft.

“If these resources are confirmed in the Perseyevsky field, investment in development and exploitation could reach $35-40 billion,” Rosneft’s then CEO Eduard Khudainatov said as BarentsObserver reported.

This summer, an area of 6500 square kilometers at the Perseevsky license will be explored with 2D seismic by a specialized research vessel. When the landmark deal with Rosneft was signed, Statoil said one exploration well would be drilled at the Perseevsky licence by 2020. Rosneft now announces the drilling to take place in 2016 and 2017.

The other licenses where seismic surveys will take place this summer is at the Prinovozemelsky fields in the Kara Sea and at the West Matveevsky area in the Pechora Sea.