Russia begins offshore exploration of Kara Sea


State-owned Russian oil and gas company Rosneft has begun large-scale exploration in the Kara Sea, located north of Siberia, and will acquire up to 300 vessels to support the project.

Announced by Rosneft vice president Andrei Shishkin, the exploration of the region's subsea shelf requires, "a completely different approach compared to what has been achieved before," he said. Other Russian officials believe the Kara Sea's continental shelf may contain some of the country's largest untapped oil reserves.

Exploration and development of the area, however, will probably be very difficult. Challenges highlighted by Mr Shishkin include the need for high quality equipment – stronger and more reliable than what has been utilised in the Sakhalin projects. Other issues include the region's Arctic environment, as well as associated safety hazards and logistics requirements.

Despite the challenges, Mr Shishkin believes the region has a potential to be highly profitable. Rosneft expects a total of 500 vessels to be deployed over the course of the area's exploration, and over 100 drilling platforms could be required to develop it following successful prospecting and analysis.

The sheer number of vessels and platforms required for the project easily makes it one of the largest ever endeavours undertaken by both Rosneft and Russia.

Vladislav Vorotnikov

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