Private Investors Should be Allowed to Develop Russia’s Arctic Shelf: Minister

Private oil and gas companies should be allowed to work on the Arctic shelf, Russia’s natural resources and environment minister said on Tuesday, according to RIA Novosti.

Speaking to reporters at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Dmitry Kobylkin said he supported “any decision linked to an increase in investment in projects related to hydrocarbons.”

The Russian economy is heavily reliant on natural resources and the Arctic’s vast oil and gas reserves are expected to become more accessible as climate change melts the ice and technology advances.

“We clearly understand that Russia’s Arctic zone has not been studied enough,” Kobylkin said in separate comments to TASS news agency. “Of course we would like to study it more, but the government cannot allow itself to make such investments. It’s very expensive.”

In August, deputy prime ministers Dmitry Kozak and Yuri Trutnev, as well as energy minister Alexander Novak proposed that Russia’s Arctic shelf be opened to private investors and proposed to draft legislation to expand access to it.

Only state-controlled Gazprom and Rosneft are currently authorized to operate on Russia’s Arctic shelf. Kobylkin told TASS that his ministry was also in talks with the two companies to increase their Arctic exploration.