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Gazprom sets sights on arctic reserves

April 29, 2013 at 7:20 AM

MOSCOW, April 29 (UPI) -- Nearly two dozen applications have been sent to Russian regulators to explore for reserves in the arctic, energy company Gazprom said.

Gazprom said it sent applications to subsurface resources agency Rosnedra for 20 licenses for blocks in the Barents, Kara, East Siberian and Chukchi seas.

Gazprom said parts of the Russian continental shelf haven't been explored well. It estimated the continental shelf could hold as much as "100 billion tons of fuel equivalent, of which some 80 percent is (natural) gas."

The company this year produced its first volumes of oil from the Prirazlomnoye oil field in the Pechora Sea using a stationary platform designed specifically for operations in arctic conditions.

Melting arctic sea ice is exposing areas believed to hold deposits of oil and natural gas. Greenpeace campaigners last year occupied the Prirazlomnoye oil rig, saying it was trying to stop "the destruction of the planet."

Gazprom said it was looking to tap into the estimated 527 million barrels of reserves in the Pechora Sea.

Regarding its ambitions, the company said it was paying "special attention" to safety issues as it looks to tap into arctic reserves.

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