Frontier study analyzes conditions for future E&P in Russian arctic

Offshore staff

MOSCOW – The Arctic Research and Design Center (a joint venture of Rosneft and ExxonMobil) has completed its 2014 Kara Sea winter expedition.

According to Rosneft, this was the largest expedition in the Russian sector of the Arctic Ocean since the days of the USSR. During the 63-day campaign scientists studied the undeveloped Laptev, Kara, and East-Siberian seas from onboard the Yamal ice-breaker vessel.

Additional work was performed off the coast of Novaya Zemlya, the Severnaya Zemlya archipelagoes, and the De Long Islands.

The team conducted ice and meteorological measurements at 35 stations and installed 40 drifting buoys at ice fields and icebergs, with the westernmost buoy placed offshore Novaya Zemlya and the easternmost along Bennett Island in the East Siberian Sea. The buoys allow constant monitoring of the coordinates of ice features and help determine which way they are drifting.

According to Rosneft, the scale of these studies in arctic seas is unprecedented. Also, this was the first time that physical and chemical properties and morphometric parameters of icebergs and hummocks have been studied in the Laptev Sea, along with water mass distribution, stream, and temperature variations.

As for iceberg drift studies along the Severnaya Zemlya archipelago, the majority of the icebergs (around 2,000) were recorded along the eastern coast. One giant iceberg was observed along Matusevich inlet measuring 3 x 1 km (1.86 x 0.6 mi).

The project involved use of remotely piloted vehicles and a KA-32 helicopter to monitor ice coverage, and Gnom remotely operated vehicles diving to 100 m (328 ft) underwater to explore the seafloor.

Additionally, scientists observed oceanic mammals and birds to evaluate the potential impact of oil production on the local environment.

Based on the findings the JV will construct 3D models of ice features to allow Rosneft to determine safe points for exploration works; to design drilling platforms and other structures for oil production; and to select routes for transportation of hydrocarbons and offshore pipelines.


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