Russian oil chief: Sanctions won’t stop Arctic drilling

New sanctions that prevent American companies from working with Russia on offshore oil and gas development won’t stop the country’s state oil company from drilling, its chief said.

State-owned Rosneft is working on an Arctic well with ExxonMobil Corp. and announced last week that it struck oil in Russia’s part of the Arctic Ocean.

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But the latest round of sanctions from the United States and Europe mean that ExxonMobil, which provided money and expertise for the well, must exit once the well is safely sealed.

“We will continue working no matter what,” Rosneft Chief Igor Sechin told Bloomberg News.

“We will plan the work for next season. As I said, now we’ve drilled only the first structure — at Universitetskaya. There are more than 30.”

As a possible sign of the effect of the sanctions, ExxonMobil was much more cautious than Rosneft in last week’s big announcement, saying that it was not sure if it would be able to recover the oil, Bloomberg said.

Analysts told Bloomberg that it will take much more time and money — something ExxonMobil had provided — for Rosneft to commercialize its discovery.

But Sechin said the news of the discovery means that Rosneft will easily be able to find investors, Bloomberg said.

Sechin was confident that if ExxonMobil had to leave, Rosneft would be able to carry on and find different partners who are not under similar restrictions.