Russia seeks private investment in the Arctic

RUSSIA / FSU POLITICS - In Brief 09 Mar 2019 by Alex Teddy

Russia's special representative on Far East Development (Yuri Trutnev) announced that he is in favor of finding new investment regimes to open access to the Artic shelf's oil and gas fields. The Arctic shelf was once estimated to have up to 67% of the oil and gas in Russia's Arctic. At the moment only state owned companies can access it. These are Rosneft and Gazprom. That is according to a 2008 law. Lukoil is also seeking access. Lukoil has managed similar challenging projects in the Caspian Sea. The cost of developing oil in the Arctic shelf is high and it requires very advanced technology. Sanctions are making the latest technology difficult to obtain. It cost Exxon over USD 1 billion to drill at the University field in the Kara Sea.Trutnev's announcement probably met with Kremlin approval. Moreover, Trutnev is known to be a protégé of Prime Minister Medvedev. The Arctic is in the remit of the Ministry of Far East Development which is significant in itself. The US withdrawal from JCPOA has adversely affected Russian oil companies. The Arctic shelf is a way to compensate for this. The latest estimates (2015) indicate that the region holds 21 billion tons of oil and over 94 trillion cubic meters of gas. Note that these are estimates and might be over optimistic.

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