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Russia Needs Moratorium on Arctic Drilling Due to Low Oil Prices: WWF

World Wide Fund for Nature Russia said that in light of global oil prices falling to a five-year low, Russia needs to declare a 10-year moratorium on fossil fuel production and exploration in the Arctic.

MOSCOW, December 23 (Sputnik) — In light of global oil prices falling to a five-year low, Russia needs to declare a 10-year moratorium on fossil fuel production and exploration in the Arctic, the head of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Russia said Tuesday.

"We need to declare a 10-year moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Arctic. At current oil prices, these projects are absolutely unprofitable," Igor Chestin said at a press conference organized by the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology.

Speaking on the state of environmental protection in Russia in 2013, Chestin noted that low oil prices give the Russian economy impetus to develop other sectors and reduce its dependency on natural resources.

West Alfa drilling platform belonging to Rosneft is anchored at the Kara Sea, an extension of the Arctic Ocean, some 250 km (156 miles) north off Russian shore. - Sputnik International
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Meanwhile, Russian Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sergei Donskoi presented a different view on the issue.

"We believe that the Arctic projects enable us to develop the industry," Donskoi said, citing the opening of the Pobeda (Victory) oil field in the Kara Sea in September as an example of the Arctic's contribution to the Russian oil and gas industry.

The minister added that oil and gas production in the Arctic is not likely to reach large-scale volumes before 2020.

Russia is currently experiencing an economic downturn and a depreciation of the national currency amid a decline in oil prices, which constitutes a major part of the country's revenues.

According to the Russian Emergencies Ministry, the total value of resources concentrated in Russia's Arctic territories exceeds $30 trillion.

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