Russian oil majors head to Barents Sea with rickety technology

Publish date: April 25, 2005

Russian majors Gazprom and Rosneft plan to start offshore oil extraction next year off the north shore of Siberia's Nenets Autonomous Region in the Barents using a Hutton design platform that was retired from duty 21 years ago, NTB reported.

The severely aged derrick will be towed to the Prirazlomnaya field, which was opened to offshore drilling in 1989, but is only now experiencing an upswing in oil production. The project has major financial problems, but Gazprom and and Rosneft hope that the endevour with the retired rig will become an important new showcase for drilling possibilities.

Prirazlomnaya has extractable reserves equalling 83 million tonnes. The oil contains a high level of sulfer and is not accepted by all buyers. Between 1989 and 1994, five exploration wells were drilled at Prirazlomnaya, four of which contained significant amounts of oil. The depth of deposits in the area is approximately 20 meters.

The field is located 60 kilometres off the coast of Varandey (Nenets AO) and 320 kilometres from the town of Naryan-Mar. The oil from the field will be exported to western Europe. Small-size tankers will ship the oil to the Belokamenka tanker in the Kola Bay, near Murmansk, where it will be reloaded and shipped further to Rotterdam in the Netherlands.