Oil drilling rigs are sailing north for Russia’s Arctic waters

Several offshore wells are set to be drilled in Russian waters this season.

By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer - June 16, 2021
The jackup rig Perro Negro 8 makes stop-over in Murmansk before it proceeds to Gulf of Ob. (Rosmorport via The Independent Barents Observer)

With wells set to be drilled in the waters of the Kara Sea and the Gulf of Ob this summer, oil drilling rigs are now sailing north to the Russian Arctic.

The jackup rig Perro Negro 8 arrived in Murmansk this week for preparations before upcoming operations in the Gulf of Ob. The installation, owned by Italian oilfield service company Saipem, is due to engage in the far northern bay in early July, according to the Russian state seaport authority Rosmorport.

The rig, built in 2010, was transported to Murmansk from Dubai by the Norwegian heavy load carrier Falcon. It is likely to drill either at the the Severo-Obskoye and Geofysicheskoye license areas, or possibly the Kamennomysskoye-More or the Semakovsky project.

The Gulf of Ob and adjacent Yamal and Gydan peninsulas are currently top priority areas for the Russian oil industry, with a heavy presence from companies including Novatek and Gazprom Neft.

Meanwhile, the Russian semi-submersible rig Severnoye Siyanie is on its way to Murmansk. That rig, operated by Gazprom Flot, set out from the Port of Vostochny on Russia’s Pacific coast  in late May and is due to arrive in the Kola Peninsula on July 25. It is carried by the heavy load ship GPO Amethyst.

The Severnoye Siyanie was originally built for operations in the Barents Sea in connection with the development of the Shtokman field, but has over the past many years operated in Russian far eastern waters. The rig is expected to engage in drilling in August in the Kara Sea, where Gazprom over the past years has made several discoveries.

Among them are the LeningradskoyeSkuratovskoyeRusanvoskoye and Nyarmeyskoye fields.

Rosneft is also active in the area, and in 2020 drilled at the Vikulovskaya and Ragozinskaya fields near Novaya Zemlya.

In recent years, drilling in Russian Arctic waters has been conducted primarily by Chinese semisubmersible Nanhai VIII (Nan Hai Ba Hao) and Russian jackup rig Amazon. The latter is reported to now undergoing reconstruction and upgrade. In 2020, the Chinese rig Nan Hai Jiu Hao also drilled in the Russian north.