Russia’s first Arctic offshore field Prirazlomnoye, where Greenpeace activists were arrested in September after a high seas clash with Russian authorities, has started production of oil, the Moscow Times reported last Friday based on information from Gazprom.
“We became the pioneers of Russia’s Arctic development,” Gazprom’s chief executive officer Alexei Miller said in a statement.
President Vladimir Putin has said Russia’s Arctic offshore riches are of a strategic importance for the country, which now is pumping an average of 10.6 million barrels of oil per day, close to its current capacity.
However, the Moscow Times notes that “start of production in the Arctic had long been delayed due to various challenges, including aging equipment and a change in shareholders structure. Difficulties obtaining official clearances and technical problems also hampered the project.”
Greenpeace issued a statement Friday saying the launch of production was “a dark day for the Arctic.”
“Gazprom is the first company on Earth to pump oil from beneath icy Arctic waters, and yet its safety record on land is appalling. It is impossible to trust them to drill safely in one of the most fragile and beautiful regions on Earth,” Greenpeace said.
Gazprom Neft expects initial production at Prirazlomnoye at 12,000 barrels per day in 2014 with a plateau of 120,000 bpd in 2021.
Oil will be extracted from the deposit, where winter temperatures often plunge below minus 50 degrees Celsius, and then pumped to tankers bound for Europe.
Gazprom Neft sees overall investments into the project at about 200 billion rubles ($6 billion), of which half has already been spent with the bulk accounting for a special ice-proof platform.