Rosneft begins Arctic geological exploration ahead of schedule

The Kremlin is reflected in the polished company plate of the state-controlled Russian oil giant Rosneft at the entrance of the headquarters in Moscow (AFP Photo / Dmitry Kostyukov)
Russia’s oil giant Rosneft has begun geological exploration in the Kara Sea one year ahead of schedule. It is part of the strategic deal with US energy major Exxon Mobil.

­The work that will run through to October 2012, and will be carried out by RN Shelf Far East, a Rosneft subsidiary, says the company’s press release.

Rosneft and ExxonMobil signed the deal to explore the shelf in Russia, the United States and other countries last August.

Both companies are to work together in tapping new deposits in the Arctic and East Siberia. Russia’s traditional Western Siberia fields bring the bulk of the country’s output, holding nearly 3/4 of Russia’s reserves.

The two companies estimate that the Kara Sea alone holds a deposit of around 85 billion barrels of oil, scattered throughout some 23 different areas.

Rosneft estimates that the total cost of the operations in Russia’s arctic shelf could reach $400 billion.

By tapping new deposits in the Arctic and East Siberia, Russia is going to sustain overall output to maintain its title as the world's top crude producer.

The Arctic potentially could be the main source of oil and gas in the future.

However its exploration is technically challenging and energy majors have been scrambling for the latest and most advanced technology to properly tap the deposits.

Apart from the Arctic shelf Exxon Mobil will join Rosneft in exploring the Tuapse field in the Black Sea. The two companies will also set up a joint center for Arctic shelf exploration in St. Petersburg.

Rosneft has also signed deals with Italy’s Eni and Norway’s Statoil to explore Russia’s Arctic shelf. It has also offered Russian companies to join in the exploration of 12 Arctic shelf fields. Surgutneftegaz rejected the offer while Lukoil and TNK-BP agreed. However TNK-BP has suspended all talks with Rosneft without giving a reason.