Russian oil majors lose interest in Taymyr

Russian oil majors lose interest in Taymyr Photo: rytikw

Rosneft and Lukoil, Russia's largest oil producers, fought to win drilling licences on the Arctic Taymyr Peninsula only a few years ago. Now it seems that they are disappointed in this once promising area. Lukoil acknowledged that the well the company drilled in 2017 was dry, and Rosneft won't continue large-scale operations on the peninsula this year.

Lukoil and Rosneft's once keen interest in the Taymyr Peninsula appears to be cooling, says The Independent Barents Observer. In 2015 and 2016, the rival producers fought hard to get licences to explore the area. After Lukoil won the East Taymyr licence, it undertook a major exploration effort involving more than 200 workers and 130 pieces of machinery. The company planned to conduct over 2,400 km of 2D seismic mapping on the total licence area of 13,800 square km.

According to Lukoil's CEO Vagit Alekperov, the East Taymyr licence was a great development opportunity in a new region. However, the company's Vice President Aleksandr Matytsyn has recently acknowledged that the well drilled in 2017 turned to be dry. The producer had to write off around 9 billion rubles due to the failed drilling.

CEO of Lukoil Vagit Alekperov named the East Taymyr licence great development opportunity. Photo: kremlin.ru

The second competitor, Rosneft, was originally seeking to obtain drilling licences for both the East Taymyr land areas and adjacent waters of the Khatanga Bay and the Laptev Sea. When Lukoil won the right to explore the East Taymyr land, Rosneft was left only with the offshore part. The state oil major even sued Lukoil over its acquisition of the East Taymyr licence but failed to get the court's support.

Rosneft started exploration in the nearby Khatanga licence simultaneously with Lukoil's activity within its East Taymyr licence. In 2016, the producer established a research and exploitation base on the shore of the Khatanga Bay to prepare for drilling in the area. In October 2017, it was announced that the company had made a significant discovery in its offshore zone. President of Rosneft Igor Sechin claimed that the Central Olginskaya-1 well held at least 80 million tonnes of oil.

However, Rosneft seems to be reluctant to continue large-scale operations in Taymyr despite the major discovery. The company hasn't filed a bid for the licence of the adjacent waters to the Khatanga area, said Minister of Natural Resources of Russia Sergey Donskoy. No auction to the Khara-Tumus licence will be held in 2018, as there is no interest among market players.

By Anna Litvina