The Arctic Research and Design Center, a joint venture between Rosneft and ExxonMobil, has started its Kara-Winter 2014 Expedition to assess ice conditions in the Laptev, Kara, and East-Siberian Seas.
The expedition, which has support from the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute Federal State Budget Institution, was launched from the Port of Murmansk on board the Yamal nuclear ice-breaker (pictured).
Rosneft said will be the largest ice expedition, by sea area coverage and duration (55 days), since the USSR collapse and it will study ice conditions of the three seas, all on the Russian shelf.
The data obtained by the expedition will be interpreted and 3D models of ice formations will be built to support exploration and subsequent oil and gas field facility design activities, as well as providing use for scientific purposes, as no such studies have ever been conducted in the regions, says Rosneft.
The studies will determine the ice phases, the morphometric parameters of the ice cover, physical and chemical properties of the ice, ice ridges, and stamukhas (ice blocks), as well as weather and water mass conditions.
“For the first time iceberg drift will be studied by means of placing buoys on their bodies and engineering surveys will be conducted for the East Siberia and Laptev Seas,” said Rosneft. “The expedition route runs along some of the least explored sea areas of the Arctic Ocean.”
In addition to the ice-breaker, the expedition will use satellites, a helicopter, an unmanned air drone, an underwater camera, buoys, and a plethora of research instruments.
The expedition will also focus on biological studies and environmental protection measures. Marine mammal and bird observations will be performed throughout the expedition, including on board the drone and helicopter. The data obtained will be used to develop environmentally friendly Arctic oil and gas exploration and production technologies.