west alpha drilling rig

Rosneft Keeps Options Open for Rig Contract in the Kara Sea

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April 9, 2015

North Atlantic Drilling’s semi-submersible rig, West Alpha, photo: Seadrill

reuters logoBy Denis Pinchuk

MOSCOW, April 9 (Reuters) – Russian energy producer Rosneft is in constant contact with global firms in its search for a company to provide a rig to restart exploration work in the Arctic next year, it said in a statement.

Rosneft cancelled a two-and-a-half year rig contract with Northern Offshore and Seadrill’s North Atlantic Drilling Ltd earlier this year due to Western sanctions imposed on Russia over Moscow’s policies in Ukraine.

The sanctions by the United States and European Union have already suspended cooperation with U.S. company ExxonMobil in the Kara Sea, where both companies announced they had found oil in September last year.

“In order to conduct exploration drilling in 2016, we could use already proven partners or companies which Rosneft hasn’t worked with before,” a Rosneft spokesman said in a written statement in response to a Reuters request.

He did not elaborate.

The spokesman said any decision would depend on the economy and “the quality” of any offer. Global oil prices have more than halved since June last year, offering better conditions for big firms ordering drilling services.

Sources had said that Rosneft may choose a rig from China or Korea, or from North Atlantic Drilling.

The spokesman confirmed that the company would resume drilling next year. It was forced to push back the resumption of drilling from this year after Exxon suspended its cooperation in the project because of sanctions.

Rosneft said in September the first well drilled with Exxon had discovered light oil and that the field, which they called ‘Pobeda’ or Victory, could hold 130 million tonnes of technically recoverable oil reserves.

Western sanctions ban oil firms from helping Russia explore in the Arctic, shale oil or deep water – areas Moscow hopes will provide new sources of oil and maintain its energy dominance. (Reporting by Denis Pinchuk, writing by Katya Golubkova, editing by Elizabeth Piper and Susan Thomas)

(c) 2015 Thomson Reuters, All Rights Reserved

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