Work at ExxonMobil’s $700 million Russian Arctic well may be put on hold as new EU and U.S. sanctions against Russia take effect Friday.
The new wave of sanctions ban U.S. and EU companies from working with Russian companies to explore and produce crude from deepwater, shale and Arctic fields. The well is in the Universitetskaya prospect off Russia’s northern coast.
Reserves at the site are estimated at 9 billion barrels of oil. The well is part of a $3.2 billion joint venture between ExxonMobil and Russia’s Rosneft that includes plans to drill at 40 prospects by the end of 2018. Drilling was scheduled to last 70 days. Friday marks the thirty-fifth day of drilling at the site.
No grace period for the sanctions has been announced. ExxonMobil did not disclose whether it will move employees or contractors from the site. “We are assessing the sanctions,” a spokesman said in a statement to Bloomberg. The Universitetskaya is being drilled with Bermuda-based Seadrill’s West Alfa rig.
The rig is under contract to the joint venture until the second quarter of 2016 with a one year extension option. ExxonMobil has not commented on the status of the Universitetskaya well, its other projects in Russia or its joint venture with Rosneft.