MOSCOW, March 19 (UPI) -- Oil company Gazprom Neft said Wednesday it's the first Russian company to join an international group tasked with assessing the safety of arctic oil work.
Gazprom Neft said Wednesday it joined the Arctic Oil Spill Response Technology Joint Industry Program, a program launched in 2012 to examine what would happen in the event of an oil spill in the frigid region.
"The joint research program will enable us to employ international best practice and global expertise in constant[ly] improving environmental security systems in the arctic," Vadim Yakovlev, first deputy chief executive officer of Gazprom Neft, said in a statement Wednesday.
Gazprom's Prirazlomnaya rig was deployed to the arctic in 2012 and is the first ice-resistant oil rig in the world. Environmental groups, however, have expressed concern about oil spills in the pristine arctic environment.
Thirty people were arrested in September after Greenpeace activists scaled the Gazprom drilling platform in the Russian arctic. The group was using its Arctic Sunrise ship to campaign against Gazprom's operations in the northern Pechora Sea.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that as much as 80 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and 20 percent of the undiscovered natural gas may lie in arctic regions.