Russian oil producer pushes deeper in Arctic

By Daniel J. Graeber  |  Nov. 28, 2016 at 7:14 AM
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MOSCOW, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Russian oil producer Gazprom Neft said it was starting sea trials for a vessel meant to support oil work, including spill response, in extreme Arctic climates.

The company said the vessel Alexander Sannikov was formally launched in preparation of sea trials for late season 2018. It's one of two icebreakers designed to operate in temperatures as low as 22 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.

"The main purpose of the vessels will be ice-breaker tanker support, assistance in mooring and loading, rescue operations, vessel towing, firefighting, and oil-spill response," the Russian company said in a statement.

Work is slated to support operations meant to bring oil out of the Novoportovskoye, or Novy Port, field in northern Russian waters.

Greenpeace has objected to Russian efforts to extract oil from the Arctic, saying it poses a risk to the pristine ecosystem there.

Greenpeace used its Arctic Sunrise vessel to gain access to the Prirazlomnaya rig, deployed by Russian energy company Gazprom for work in the country's Arctic waters. Two freelance journalists and 28 Greenpeace activists, dubbed the Arctic 30, were held by Russian authorities on piracy charges in 2013.

Gazprom Neft made its first winter shipment of oil from the Novy Port field to the European market in early 2015. The company, the oil division of Russian energy company Gazprom, said seasonal oil shipments could total about 360,000 barrels from the field near the Yamal Peninsula.

The company said both commissioned vessels will be used to ensure oil exports from the region can operate year-round. An oil terminal in the region has the capacity for 62 million barrels of oil per year.

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