Russian crude oil producer Rosneft and its US project partner Exxon Mobil have struck oil in the Arctic.
The Russian firm said that drilling had been completed on the Universitetskaya-1 well in the Arctic, the northernmost well in the world. The operation had been completed in record time and the well had produced "an astonishing sample of light oil". Rosneft estimates that the site could provide access to 100 million tonnes of oil and 368 billion cubic metres of gas.
Universitetskaya-1 has been the subject of protests by environmentalists who are concerned that drilling in the Arctic could ruin the pristine nature of the area. While it has been initially drilled there are questions on how quickly the site can be developed. With Russia under continued sanctions from the US and the European Union, the progress of the well is expected to be problematic.
Exxon confirmed that it will "wind down" the project with Rosneft as the sanctions, imposed over Russia's part in the Ukraine crisis, tighten.
Both the Russian company and its head Igor Sechin are being targeted and mean the Russia will be restricted from access to foreign technology. Western companies are also restricted from co-operating with Russia in the Arctic and in shared exploration and deep-water drilling.
Speaking about the latest oil find, Mr Sechin said: "This is an outstanding result of the first exploratory drilling on a completely new offshore field.
"This is our united victory – it was achieved thanks to our friends and partners from Exxon Mobil, Nord Atlantic Drilling, Schlumberger, Halliburton, Weatherford, Baker, Trendsetter, FMC."
British energy giant BP warned in July against imposing sanctions on Rosneft as it could impact on its own operations. Announcing its second quarter trading update, the company said that further sanction could hamper its performance. BP holds a 20 per cent stake in the Russian energy firm and share reserves with the company.
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