Gazprom sends drilling rigs to Far East

June 17, 2013 at 7:21 AM

MOSCOW, June 17 (UPI) -- Russian energy company Gazprom announced it dispatched two drilling rigs to start an exploration campaign off the eastern Russian coast.

Gazprom officials have focused their energy on Asian markets to capitalize on growing demand for natural gas. Japan started consuming more natural gas when the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility melted down in the wake of a 2011 tsunami and earthquake.

Japanese use of liquefied natural gas set a record in January 2012 of 9 billion cubic feet per day, 2 billion cubic feet more than the same period for 2011.

Gazprom operates Russia's only liquefied natural gas plant at Sakhalin Island, in the Sea of Okhotsk. The company said Friday it sent its Polyarnaya Zvezda and Severnoye Siyaniye drilling rigs to the region to explore the Russian continental shelf north of Japan.

Gazprom added last week it would help meet the demands of its federal districts in the Far East as part of its effort to push toward Asia.

"The company will continue the gasification of Far Eastern regions with due consideration for the economic development and gas consumption outlook," it said in a statement.

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