Gazprom towing oil rig to arctic circle

Aug. 19, 2011 at 8:03 AM

MURMANSK, Russia, Aug. 19 (UPI) -- Russian energy company Gazprom announced it was towing an ice-resistant stationary platform, its first, to an oil field in the Pechora Sea shelf.

An icebreaker started towing an offshore ice-resistant stationary platform to the Prirazlomnoye field about 40 miles off the coast in the Pechora Sea in the Russian arctic.

Gazprom estimated reserves at the Prirazlomnoye oil field at around 527 million barrels, which the energy company said translates to roughly 43 million barrels worth of production per year.

"The field development will be a pilot project on developing the Russian arctic shelf and is of crucial significance for Gazprom group's oil business strategy," the company said in a statement.

The ice-resistant platform is the first to be designed and built in Russia. The energy company said it would take about two weeks to tow the platform the estimated 745 miles to the drilling site. A 40-well drilling campaign is to start at the end of the year.

Gazprom said it paid "special attention" to environmental safety issues. Critics of oil and natural gas exploration in arctic waters say they worry about the potential impact of a major oil spill.

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