Dec. 29 (UPI) -- A Russian energy company said it completed surveys necessary to get a better understanding of the oil and gas reserve potential in Arctic waters.
A subsidiary of Gazprom Neft said it finished seismic surveys of the Dolginskoye oil field and the Severo-Zapadny license block in the Arctic waters of the Pechora Sea.
"The results obtained through these seismic works will remove any major subsurface uncertainties and allow Gazprom Neft's subsequent geological prospecting program at the Pechora Sea to be put in place," the company explained in a statement.
The company reached a milestone last year with the production of its 10 millionth barrel of oil at the Prirazlomnoye field. Discovered in 1989, the field is roughly 35 miles from shore in the Pechora Sea.
Oil from the field is transported by two doubled-hulled tankers designed to ensure safe delivery from the Arctic north. 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.
"The vessels involved meet the highest international standards in environmental and industrial safety, being equipped with a deck-heating system, steps, handrails, and mountings and fixings for inflatable lifeboats, further improving workplace safety under freezing conditions," the company said.
Inland, Sakhamin Afanasyev, the minister of ecology for the Sakha republic, the largest in Russia, said development of the Arctic region has resulted in "significant" damage to the environment. Most of the contamination is in the form of scrap metal and oil residue.
Gazprom Neft was fined about $1 million for oil spills in parts of Siberia in 2014. Development is costly, with most Russian operators waiting for oil to move above $75 per barrel to review further opportunities in the extreme north.