Russian oil exploration giant Rosneft has said it and partner ExxonMobil have made an oil discovery on the Universitetskaya-1 well in the Arctic, despite US and European Union sanctions.
Rosneft said the well, in the East-Prinovozemelskiy-1 license in the Kara Sea, was drilled in one and a half months, amidst a clamour over US and EU sanctions aimed at Russia over its involvement in the Ukrainian crisis.
Rosneft chairman Igor Sechin, who is himself the subject of sanctions, said the discovery, named Pobeda ("victory" in Russian), contained 338 billion cu m gas and more than 100 million tonnes of oil.
Drilling had started on August 9, in 81m water depth, 230km off the Russian coast using North Atlantic Drilling's West Alpha semisubmersible drilling rig. The operation had been due to last until October.
The recent sanctions, issued by the US and European Union, have included barring companies from helping Russia exploit Arctic, deepwater of shale oil fields.
ExxonMobil had said it would comply with all US sanctions and Friday 19 September announced that it had been given an extension by the US Treasury Department to "wind down" operations relating to the Kara Sea well.
Today, Reuters reported that ExxonMobil was suspending its offshore Arctic drilling cooperation with Rosneft due to the sanctions, according to the daily Kommersant.
According to Rosneft, the well reached 2113m deep and obtained formation samples. The firm said analysis of the data and samples collected is now underway.
Rosneft has said that the Universitetskaya structure contains a 55m high hydrocarbon trap, with resources of 1.3 billion tons of oil equivalent. Thirty structures have been found in three East Prinovozemelskiy areas with a resource base totaling 87 billion boe, it says.
During the ceremony dedicated to the completion of the drilling, the head of Rosneft Igor Sechin said: “I can inform you about the discovery of the first oil/gas-condensate field in the new Kara sea oil province. The first oil was extracted. It is an astonishing sample of light oil, which, based on the results of the analysis performed, is comparable to the Siberian Light oil.
"The resource base estimate of just this oil trap is 338 billion cu m of gas and more than 100 million tones of oil. And this is just the estimates of this very structure. This is an outstanding result of the first exploratory drilling on a completely new offshore field. This is our united victory, it was achieved thanks to our friends and partners from ExxonMobil, Nord Atlantic Drilling, Schlumberger, Halliburton, Weatherford, Baker, Trendsetter, FMC. We would like to name this field Pobeda."