Rosneft Gets Government Approval on Sale of Northern Sea Route Oil Section

The Russian Ministry of Natural Resources has agreed to hold a tender for the Zapadno-Irkinsky subsoil area (north of Krasnoyarsk Region), on request from the country’s biggest oil company, Rosneft, TASS news agency reports, citing business newspaper Vedomosti.

The region has probable oil and gas reserves of 500 million tons of conditional fuel, according to Minister Sergey Donskoy’s letter to President Vladimir Putin. The communique was confirmed to Vedomosti by a source close to the ministry. The letter was a response to Rosneft’s request to put the subsoil area up for tender this year.

At the same time, the ministry doubts that the volume of oil that Rosneft considers possible to produce at the field will meet the expectations of the state-owned company.

“The liquid hydrocarbon reserves may be less than the stated estimate due to the dominating gas content on adjacent territories. By the same token, the ministry noted that around 70% of the license area is located in a specially protected natural area of regional importance,” the letter said.

The license can be clinched by a company that satisfies three conditions: it must have its own ice-class fleet built in Russia, its exports must be extracted oil by the Northern Sea Route, and it must guarantee environmental safety requirements during development.

According to Mikhail Burmistrov, General Director of Infoline-Analytics, currently no oil company has its own fleet of ice-class tankers, but Rosneft is the only firm which has ordered such ships at the Zvezda shipyard. The company could begin development of the area not earlier than 2026-2027.

“Holding a tender, when a specific subsoil user or group fits the launch requirements is a legitimate practice. There is also an economic reason – giving a license area only to those who would be able to develop it with an absolute guarantee,” Ivan Sidorov, senior researcher at the Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas, told the newspaper.