MOSCOW, May 1 (UPI) -- Taking advantage of the resource potential in the Russian arctic is one of the top priorities for oil company Rosneft, President Igor Sechin said.
The board of directors at Rosneft said Monday they were ready to start working in the arctic waters of Russia through a joint effort with U.S. energy company Exxon Mobil.
Sechin said in an announcement coinciding with the release of the company's first-quarter financial report that arctic exploration was an integral part of Rosneft's strategy for the year.
"Monetization of Russia’s enormous resource potential in the offshore arctic is the key priority for the company," he said in a statement Wednesday.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimates the arctic holds 13 percent, or about 90 billion barrels, of the world's undiscovered oil reserves and 1.6 quadrillion cubic feet, or about 30 percent, of the world's undiscovered natural gas.
Sechin said exploration in the Kara Sea, adjacent to the Arctic Ocean, was "unquestionably" a top priority for the country.
Rosneft in 2012 started seismic surveys of the Kara Sea in order to get a better understanding of the reserve potential.
Advocacy groups like Greenpeace have expressed concern about oil operations in the pristine arctic environment, saying the remote and extreme location may present obstacles to responding to any potential spill.