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Russia should explore the Crimean continental shelf for natural gas, the head of the Russian Academy of Sciences told RIA Novosti during a three-day visit on the peninsula.
“The studies that were conducted earlier and those that are currently underway show there could be quite significant gas reserves,” he said, adding that future exploration would involve both seismic studies and the use of “space tools” to determine the best areas for drilling.
There are nine producing gas fields in the Crimean shelf at the moment. Production at the biggest one, Odesskoye, will be suspended starting July 1 because of an international maritime rights arbitration case initiated by Ukraine.
Ukrainian media last month reported that Russia had seized some 7 billion cubic meters of natural gas from deposits around Crimea since the annexation of the peninsula in 2014. “Moscow is well aware that the offshore deposits which the gas is being stolen from are not related to Crimea, and sooner or later, it will have to bear responsibility for illegally appropriated property and compensate for the damage,” Ukrainian energy expert Mykhailo Honchar said.
NATO estimates the oil and gas resources of the Crimean shelf at between 4 and 13 trillion cubic meters, which, the pact said, would have been instrumental in Ukraine’s drive towards energy independence from Russia.
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In fact, the annexation of the peninsula—which had been part of Russia from the late 18th century to 1954—was seen by many outside Russia as a means for Moscow to get its hands on this allegedly vast oil and gas wealth in the Black Sea.
Shell and Exxon did some exploration work at the Skifska offshore gas field in Crimea but both pulled out in 2014, shortly before Crimea’s annexation. The two companies had estimated that the field holds reserves of 200 to 250 billion cubic meters of natural gas.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.