Russia’s energy giant Gazprom said it has launched production at its Arctic oil rig which was boarded by 30 Greenpeace activists earlier this year.
The Prirazlomnoye field (pictured) is located in the Pechora Sea, 60 kilometres off the shore, with 71.96 million tons of recoverable oil reserves. Gazprom expects to pump up to around six million tons every year by 2020.
Environmental campaigners boarded Gazprom’s platform in September in protest against the oil giant’s plans to drill in the Arctic, which led to the arrest and imprisonment of 28 activists and two freelance journalists – called the ‘Arctic 30’.
Gazprom said in a statement: “Gazprom has started producing oil from the Prirazlomnoye field. It is the first Russian project for developing the Arctic shelf and the commencement of Gazprom’s large-scale activities aimed at creating a large hydrocarbon production centre in the region.”
Faiza Oulahsen from the Netherlands, one of the Arctic 30 said: “This is a dark day for the Arctic. Gazprom is the first company on earth to pump oil from beneath icy Arctic waters and yet its safety record on land is appalling. It is impossible to trust them to drill safely in one of the most fragile and beautiful regions on Earth.
“This is why I have spent the last two months of my life in jail but I am just one of millions who oppose this reckless oil rush. We must stop this trickle of Arctic oil before it becomes a flood.”
The first oil shipment from the Prirazlomnoye field is expected in the first quarter of next year.