Russia to begin Barents Sea shelf exploration in 2012

Russia will begin geological exploration of the promising Barents Sea shelf located on the border with Norway in 2012, Russia’s Natural Resources Minister Yury Trutnev said on Thursday.

After reaching a key deal with Norway over Arctic maritime borders last year, Russia is now embarking on developing large fields located in border zones, Trutnev said in Arkhangelsk at the second international forum The Arctic: Territory of Dialogue.

“Forty-year-long talks have finished, we can now start working jointly. Norway has already begun seismic surveys in its part of the shelf. Russia plans to begin work in 2012. They will be funded from the federal budget,” Trutnev said

Leading international analysts view the West Arctic oil and gas shelf province, which the Russian-Norwegian delimitation line runs through, as a region whose resources may compensate for falling oil production in the North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.

In 2012, Russia will begin exploration of the Fedynsky Arch deposit (also known as Hjalmar Johansen High in Norway), located in the southern part of the Barents Sea, Trutnev said.

Unofficial forecasts suggest this deposit contains reserves of some 10-12 billion metric tons of fuel equivalent – exceeding threefold those of the Shtokman field. Fedynsky Arch was the main bone of contention in the Russian-Norwegian talks.

Ecological safety of drilling in the Arctic and subsequent transportation of oil and gas will be a top priority for Russia, Russian Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu said.

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