The West Alpha platform. Image courtesy of Rosneft.

Russia’s Rosneft reportedly has no plans to restart its Kara Sea drilling projects this year after western sanctions halted work at its joint venture with ExxonMobil in the Arctic play.

“There will be no drilling in 2015. There is no platform and it is too late to get one. The project was initially created for Exxon’s platform,” a Rosneft source told Reuters.

A second source confirmed the news and said the company is aiming to restart Kara Sea operations in 2016.

“We will definitely resume drilling in 2016 on our own after finding a platform. The Arctic is our priority,” the source said.

Rosneft said it will meet its 2015 Kara Sea license obligations although the company did not provide details about those obligations.

The state owned oil giant has been anxious to tap into Russia’s Arctic plays as reserves in West Siberia dwindle.

In September, western sanctions against Russia forced ExxonMobil to wind down work at its $600 million Universitetskaya-1 well in the Kara Sea.

The Universitetskaya-1 well is part of a $3.2 billion joint venture between ExxonMobil and Rosneft that includes plans to drill at 40 prospects by the end of 2018.

The well, drilled by the West Alpha platform, discovered a new oil field whose quality “surpasses the benchmark Brent oil as well as Siberian Light oil and WTI on the key indicators,” Rosneft said.

The Kara Sea holds estimated reserves of 87 billion barrels or 13 billion tons of oil equivalent.

The West Alpha platform returned to Norway in September after completing the Universitetskaya-1 well and is under contract with ExxonMobil until July 2016 with a one year extension option.

ExxonMobil has not commented on its plans for its Kara Sea joint venture.


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