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Exxon’s Hunt for Oil in the Black Sea

By Andy Soos | Wed, 02 February 2011 14:15 | 0

The quest for oil is an ever on going saga of the modern age. US-based ExxonMobil, the biggest privately-controlled oil company in the world, will make a new investment in Russia for the first time in over a decade as Moscow seeks to thaw its frosty investor climate and keep its oil flowing.

The Black Sea is considered to be as rich in oil reserves as the Caspian Sea by some experts, but its real potential is not yet explored. Russian state oil company Rosneft will develop over a billion tons of Black Sea oil using a $1 billion investment by ExxonMobil, whose relationship with the world's top oil producing country has been so far poor in the 21st Century. This is not the only endeavor in the area. The virtually land locked Black Sea has six countries on its shores. Each one would like to develop its potential. Each one will have its potential environmental consequences. 

The Black Sea region is not well known for oil resources.  The nearby Caspian Sea,in comparison is quite rich in such resources.  What the area is better known for in terms of resources are marine types.

The Black Sea supports an active and dynamic marine ecosystem, dominated by species suited to the brackish, nutrient-rich, conditions. As with all marine food webs, the Black Sea features a range of groups, with algae, including diatoms and dinoflagellates, acting as primary producers. The fluvial systems draining Eurasia and central Europe introduce large volumes of sediment and dissolved nutrients into the Black Sea, but distribution of these nutrients is controlled by the degree of physiochemical stratification, which is, in turn, dictated by seasonal physiographic development.

The Black Sea is considered to be as rich in oil reserves as the Caspian Sea by some experts, but its real potential is not yet explored. ExxonMobil and Petroleo Brasileiro (Petrobras) have teamed up with the Turkish National Oil Company (TPAO) to explore for deepwater oil and gas in the Black Sea, the press has previously reported.TPAO has invested some $4 billion in offshore oil exploration in the Black Sea.

Turkey believes oil in its Black Sea shelf could make the country energy independent.

The Shatsky Ridge (Western Black Sea License Area) covers 8,600 sq kms and is located in the eastern waters of the Black Sea. Ten potential hydrocarbon structures have been identified, of which five appear promising.

The current Exxon deal is the second with a major Western oil company this year.  It follows a shares swap and drilling deal in the Arctic between Rosneft and Britain's BP, another Western major with a rocky history of investment in Russia.

Analysts had hailed the BP deal as a sign Russia is moving away from "resource nationalism" as it faces rising investment requirements to stay the world's top oil producer, pumping at current record rates of more than 10 million barrels per day.

By. Andy Soos

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