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Gazprom Ships First Oil From Arctic Drilling

Published: April 21, 2014 (Issue # 1806)



  • The oil tanker Mikhail Ulyanov arriving at the ice-bound Prirazlomnaya oil rig, situated 60 kilometers offshore.
    Photo: Gazprom

Gazprom on Friday shipped the first oil from the country's only offshore Arctic field in operation to Europe, marking the latest step in the development of the environmentally fragile and ice-cold site.

Greenpeace activists scaled the Prirazlomnaya oil rig last fall — to be arrested, initially on charges of piracy — in protest of the company messing with the pristine area and posing the risk of pollution.

The buildup of Russian oil supplies to Europe is also taking place as their political ties deteriorate rapidly over Ukraine.

"Today's event has a large significance for the strengthening of Russia's position on the global oil market," Gazprom chief Alexei Miller said in a statement.

President Vladimir Putin gave the command, in a live video linkup with the oil rig, to export the cargo, stressing the importance the government attaches to this remote and pioneering project. Miller was on hand at the oil rig for the occasion.

The consignment of 70,000 tons will make its way to northwestern Europe, bought by one of Europe's biggest energy companies, Gazprom said in the statement, without disclosing the customer.

The quality of the oil, branded "Arco" for Arctic oil, is worse than that of Russia's best-known blend Urals, said Grigory Birg, an oil analyst at InvestCafe, a brokerage. Therefore, it is likely to sell at a cheaper price, he said.

The company anticipates to ship a total of 300,000 tons this year, a fraction of the country's annual oil exports of more than 200 million tons. It did not say whether the entire amount is destined for Europe.

Gazprom dedicated a fair share of its statement Friday to an attempt to allay fears of a possible environmental disaster at the field. The design of the partially Russia-built oil rig "fully" removed the threat of spills during the production, storage and loading of oil, it said. The onboard storage tank has concrete walls that are three meters thick and coated with stainless steel, which is resilient to corrosion and wear.

"It is factor of safety exceeds the actual loads many times over," the statement said.

Sitting 60 kilometers offshore, the Prirazlomnoye field holds 72 million tons of recoverable oil. Production started in December and is expected to reach 6 million tons a year some time after 2020.

Ben van Beurden, chief of Royal Dutch Shell, pledged further commitment to Russia in a Friday meeting with Putin, amid sanctions slapped on the country by the European Union and the U.S.

Van Beurden re-confirmed Shell's plans to expand Russia's only liquefied natural gas, or LNG, in a joint venture with Gazprom and Japan's Mitsui and Mitsubishi. Shell also has an oil-producing project with Gazprom Neft, Gazprom's oil arm.

BP boss Bob Dudley said this week the sanctions had no effect on the company's business in Russia, Reuters reported.

Russia, the world's top crude oil producer and a leader in natural gas, has signed deals with international majors including ExxonMobil, Eni, Statoil and BP, mainly relating to projects in the Arctic.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Nov. 27


The Customs and Transportation Committee for AmCham meets this morning at 9 a.m. in their office on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.


Tickets are still available for local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg’s showdown with Siberian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Palace outside the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. Tickets can be purchased on the team’s website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literature’s most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poet’s birthday. The tragic tenor’s work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russia’s greatest living poet before his death in 1921, will be recited and meetings and discussions about his contributions to the Silver Age of literature in St. Petersburg will be discussed in the confines of his former residence.



Friday, Nov. 28


Join table game aficionados at the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test one’s intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only man’s best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during today’s reenactment titled “Winter War: How it Was.” More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie “Black Cat, White Cat,” as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of “Takoy Festival,” a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonight’s festival finale is “Fathers and Sons,” a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenev’s classic about familial relations.



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