Rosneft announced it started work with Exxon in the northern region that it said would help address international energy security concerns.
"Comparing this project in terms of a resource base to other projects, we can say for sure that it is highly competitive with the largest resources, such as the resource base of Saudi Arabia, and will by far surpass the capacities of the Gulf of Mexico Shelf, Alaska and Canada," Rosneft Chief Executive Officer Igor Sechin said Saturday.
Rosneft positioned the West Alpha rig, provided by Norwegian company North Atlantic Drilling, at the East Prinovozemelskiy-1 license area in the Kara Sea. The company said the entire area could hold as much as 87 billion barrels of oil.
The announcement with Exxon came despite a string of sanctions filed against the Russian companies from Western powers frustrated with Russia's actions in eastern Ukraine. Energy work in the arctic north, meanwhile, has come up against criticism from groups like Greenpeace, who worry about the potential damage to the pristine arctic environment.
Rosneft said it has unique capabilities that would prevent any major disasters in the Kara Sea.