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12 May, 2021 14:06

Not running out anytime soon! Russia’s gas reserves will last for another 100 years, claims Moscow’s natural resources minister

Not running out anytime soon! Russia’s gas reserves will last for another 100 years, claims Moscow’s natural resources minister

The Russian government has upped its official long-term estimate for hydrocarbon reserves to over a century as it plans to develop resource production of the Arctic region, which contains 72% of the country’s natural gas deposits.

Russia’s natural gas supplies will suffice for at least 100 years, according to Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology Alexander Kozlov. In a recent interview with Moscow daily RBK, Kozlov said: “The provisions of all oil reserves at the current production rate is 59 years, and natural gas – 103 years.”

This is a more optimistic figure than the one expressed by Kozlov's predecessor Sergey Donskoy, who said in a 2017 interview that oil reserves would last 57 years at best. Moreover, Donskoy pointed out that such an estimate relates to deposits which can ‘theoretically’ be extracted; the number is closer to 28 years when including proven reserves where the exact locations and means of extraction are known.

Alexander Kozlov stressed that the current estimate of 103 years is the “overall balance,” adding that “in some places there are oil deposits that are being depleted while there are others which are not yet full.” He conceded the need for more geological surveys to be carried out, in order to gain a more accurate picture of oil and gas distribution, particularly in more remote areas.

One of these hard-to-access places is Russia’s Arctic, which contains almost 25% of the country’s recoverable oil reserves and 72% of its natural gas deposits. As experts predict that the quantity of oil and gas to be exported from the region will only increase in years to come, the government has recently turned its attention to the Northern Sea Route.

Kozlov has spoken of the importance of developing this seaway, which Russia hopes can one day replace the Suez Canal for the transportation of both hydrocarbons and metals coming from the frozen north.

The Northern Sea Route would provide a shorter pathway for Russian and European exports to Japan, South Korea and China than the Egyptian waterway, which came under scrutiny in March this year when a container ship got stranded in the canal, resulting in billion-dollar losses.

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Last year, Energy Minister Alexander Novak invited fellow members of the BRICS bloc (Brazil, India, China and South Africa) to take part in joint exploration projects of Russia’s Arctic region. He stated that “huge reserves of hydrocarbons are concentrated on the territory of the Arctic zone, which are estimated at billions of tons of oil and tens of trillions of cubic meters of gas." Novak noted that the Northern Sea Route, being shorter compared to other routes, gives Russia a competitive advantage for the implementation of oil and gas projects in the Arctic.

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