A Russian drillship explores the northern Kara Sea

The ship is in remote but shallow waters that haven't been previously explored.

A marine tracker shows the drillship Bavenit in the northern waters of the Kara Sea. (The Independent Barents Observer)

A Russian drillship has been operating in remote Arctic waters that have never been previously explored, according to the state oil and gas company Rosneft.

The exploration ship Bavenit, operated by state geological exploration company Rosgeo, stayed for several days near the island of Vize in the northern Kara Sea in late October, ship tracking information shows.

By November 2, the ship had moved east towards the archipelago of Severnaya Zemlya.

The expedition is part of a comprehensive scientific program operated by Rosneft. It is the first time ever that drilling in these far northern shallow waters, the state oil company says.

The drill cores to be collected will be of great importance for the geological understanding of the northern Kara Sea, and will be carefully examined in the company’s laboratories.

Similar exploration has previously been conducted in the waters near Novaya Zemlya and Severnaya Zemlya, according to Rosneft.

The Bavenit was built in Finland in 1986 and is one of Russia’s most advanced vessels for shelf exploration and drilling. The ship had recently undergone a major upgrade that reportedly has made it capable of engaging in the northernmost parts of the Russian Arctic shelf. The ship left Murmansk on September 25 on a course for Rosneft’s Severo-Karsky license area.

In addition to the exploration of the Bavenit, Rosneft is currently doing hydrocarbon mapping also in the more eastern Laptev and East Siberian Seas.

According to the company, the multipurpose vessel Kapitan Voronin is operating in the east Arctic waters with the purpose of preparing the ground for drilling of stratigraphic wells.

Kara Sea 

Rosneft has this year also engaged in exploration in more southern parts of the Kara Sea. In his meeting with President Vladimir Putin in August, company leader Igor Sechin confirmed that he has two rigs drilling in the waters outside archipelago Novaya Zemlya.

Well drilling at the Vikulovskaya and Ragozinskaya started on July 22 and was conducted by two rigs that had been towed to site from Murmansk, Sechin said.

The wells are located in the Vostochno-Prinovozemelsky 1-2 license areas, nearby the drillsite where Rosneft in 2014 made a major discovery in partnership with ExxonMobil.

Rosneft is the company that holds most the offshore license areas in the Russian Arctic. According to the company, it has a portfolio of 55 offshore licenses, of which 28 are in the Arctic. The resource potential of the offshore licenses is estimated to 41 billion tons of oil equivalents.

Sea-ice information from the Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute shows that practically the whole Kara Sea, Laptev Sea and East Siberian Sea are ice-free.