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Russia opened 37 new oil and gas fields in 2006

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Last year 37 oil and gas fields were opened in Russia, the Natural Resources Ministry said Wednesday.
MOSCOW, April 18 (RIA Novosti) - Last year 37 oil and gas fields were opened in Russia, the Natural Resources Ministry said Wednesday.

"In 2006, about a thousand exploration licenses were issued, while prospecting for oil and gas as a rule takes three to four years," the ministry's spokesman said.

He said that initial exploration is sponsored through the federal budget, after which mineral developers obtain licenses for deeper prospecting at their own expense.

The source said that in 2006, federal spending on mineral exploration increased 50% against 2005, to 16.4 billion rubles ($635.66 million), including 6.8 billion rubles ($263.57 million) on oil and gas exploration.

The operations revealed 63 promising sites, and data was received to specify the size of Russian offshore areas in the Sea of Okhotsk and near the Mendeleev Ridge in the Arctic Ocean.

Last year, most oil and gas prospecting operations were conducted in East Siberia and the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) with a view to increasing the raw materials base along the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline under construction.

The Web site of Russian energy giant Gazprom, whose current oil and gas reserves are estimated at $138.6 billion, provides a chart of proven global gas reserves for 2005, in which Russia comes second with 47.7 trillion cubic meters after Middle East countries.

Russia's official sources said the country possesses over 10% of global oil, holding second place for the world's proven oil reserves.

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