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Arctic oil production more than doubled, Russia says

Gazprom Neft churning out more oil from its only field in production above the Arctic Circle.

By
Daniel J. Graeber
Oil production from a field above the Arctic Circle more than doubled last year, Russian energy company Gazprom Neft said. Photo courtesy of Gazprom Neft
Oil production from a field above the Arctic Circle more than doubled last year, Russian energy company Gazprom Neft said. Photo courtesy of Gazprom Neft

Jan. 30 (UPI) -- Russian oil company Gazprom Neft said its production from a field in Arctic waters more than doubled from levels reported in 2015.

The company said total production from the Prirazlomnaya oil field in the Russian waters above the Arctic Circle totaled 15.7 million barrels for full-year 2016, an increase from the 5.8 million recorded the previous year.

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Prirazlomnoye is the first and only field in production in the Russian Arctic. Commercial oil production started in late 2013 and the first batch of oil for delivery was sent in April 2014.

Advocacy groups like Greenpeace have been critical about oil operations in the extreme climates of the Arctic north, saying an oil spill in the region would be catastrophic and difficult to control.

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Gazprom Neft said a stationary rig at the site is designed specifically to ensure the risks of a spill are minimized to the greatest extent possible.

"Safety is foremost in all operations, with loading commencing only once 30 separate safety requirements are all complied with," the company stated. "The offloading line for the pumping of oil to tankers is equipped with an emergency shut-down system, allowing offloading to be terminated instantaneously."

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Oil from the Arctic field is considered high-density and used typically for road construction and some aerospace industries.

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The production growth last year from Prirazlomnoye follows a Russia pledge to join in efforts steered by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to balance the market. An oversupply of oil, led in part by U.S. shale oil production, pushed crude oil prices to historic lows in early 2016.

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