ExxonMobil and Rosneft will end drilling operations in the Kara Sea due to Western sanctions.
|The West Alpha|
ExxonMobil released a statement today (19 September), which said the supermajor will comply with all US sanctions.
“The US Treasury Department, recognizing the complexity of the University-1 well and the sensitive Kara Sea arctic environment, has granted a license to ExxonMobil and other US contractors and persons involved to enable the safe and responsible winding down of operations related to this exploration well. The license recognizes the need to protect the safety of the individuals involved in these operations as well as the risk to the environment. All activities related to the wind down will proceed as safely and expeditiously as possible,” the company said.
Reuters reported today that Russia’s Natural Resources Minister, Sergie Donskoi, said it was highly likely that US supermajor ExxonMobil and Russian state-owned Rosneft had halted operations in the Kara Sea due to Western sanctions over Ukraine.
|Kara Sea map.|
Donskoi told Reuters, “I have heard information about the possibility of such an event, the suspension of drilling, but I have not been officially informed of that…The probability is high, it’s most likely to have been stopped. Rosneft started to drill ahead of time…it is still possible to carry out the drilling in the framework of the current license.”
Bloomberg also reported that work stopped just a few days after the US and European Union barred companies from helping Russia exploit Arctic, deepwater or shale oil fields.
ExxonMobil began drilling operations in Kara Sea’s Universitetskaya structure in the East Prinovozemelskiy area on 9 August, defying Western-imposed sanctions against Rosneft. Drilling was set to continue until October 2014. The duo is using North Atlantic Drilling’s West Alpha semisubmersible.
Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin launched drilling operations through a videoconference on the Universitetskaya-1 well, the northern-most well in the area.
Rosneft 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.
The Kara Sea has water depths ranging between 40-350m, and Rosneft places the depth at the drilling spot at 81m.