MOSCOW, June 17 (UPI) -- Russian energy company Gazprom Neft said it plans to conduct drilling operations in the northern Pechora Sea during the ice-free months of 2014.
The company said a drilling platform was delivered to the Dolginskoye field in the arctic waters of the Pechora Sea.
"An exploration well will be drilled from the platform during the ice-free months of 2014 to further investigate the field's geological structure and prepare it for full-scale development," the company said in a statement Monday.
Changing weather patterns are leaving parts of the arctic region ice-free for longer periods of time, giving energy companies more time to try to exploit the estimated 90 billion barrels of undiscovered oil and 1.6 quadrillion cubic feet of undiscovered natural gas thought to lie beneath the arctic waters.
Gazprom Neft is the oil arm of the Russian energy company Gazprom, which was the target of Greenpeace demonstrations against arctic exploration this year and last.
Gazprom Neft said its drilling operations in the region are certified as safe. The company estimates the Dolginskoye field holds more than 200 million tons of oil equivalent.
More drilling is planned in the region during the next two years.