Russia Strikes Massive Oil Reserve In Arctic As War Sends Barrel Price Skyrocketing
A Russian oil company claims it has found an enormous oil field under Arctic waters in the Pechora Sea.
Sergey Anisimov /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Russia claims to have found a massive oil reserve in the Arctic, in a discovery that could further strengthen Moscow’s hand as energy prices continue to skyrocket.

Energy giant Rosneft said the oil field beneath Pechora Sea contains an estimated 82 million tons of oil. It was found during exploratory drilling in the Medynsko-Varandeysky area, according to global financial news site

 “During the tests, a free flow of oil was obtained with a maximum flow rate of 220 cubic meters a day,” Rosneft said in a news release, describing the oil as “light, low-sulfur, low viscosity.”

According to Rosneft, the exploratory work in the Pechora Sea confirmed the “substantial oil potential of the Timan-Pechora province on the shelf and served as the foundation for continuing the study and development of the region.”

Rosneft reportedly holds 28 offshore licenses in the Arctic, eight of them in the Pechora Sea, a body of water above northwest Russia. The Pechora Sea is the the southeastern portion of the larger Barents Sea, and is an active oil exploration region. It has an average depth of just 20 feet, making drilling easier despite the fact that it is blocked by floating ice for more than half the year.

Russia is the world’s third-biggest oil producer, behind only the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. Although it supplies much of Western Europe with oil for gasoline and heating, global leaders are working on a complex plan to cap how much Russia can charge for its oil in an effort to punish Moscow for its war on Ukraine. Last week, analysts at JP Morgan Chase warned that the move could prompt Russia to cut production, which then could send the worldwide price of a barrel of oil from about $111 today to as much as $380.

“It is likely that the government could retaliate by cutting output as a way to inflict pain on the West,” analyst Natasha Kaneva wrote. “The tightness of the global oil market is on Russia’s side.”

President Joe Biden acknowledged last week that oil prices are on a rapid upward trajectory. When asked how long Americans should expect to pay high prices, he offered little room for optimism.

“As long as it takes so Russia cannot in fact defeat Ukraine and move beyond Ukraine,” Biden told reporters in Europe Thursday. “This is a critical, critical position for the world. Here we are. Why do we have NATO? I told Putin that in fact, if he were to move, we would move to strengthen NATO. We would move to strengthen NATO across the board.”

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