MOSCOW, February 9 (RIA Novosti) - Russian state-owned oil major Rosneft won licenses Thursday to develop three oil and natural gas deposits in Siberia, the company said in a news release.
Rosneft paid 429 billion rubles (more than $15 billion), 2.1 billion rubles (more than $74) and 2.8 billion rubles (about $100 million) for deposits with estimated recoverable reserves of 23.2 million metric tons, 14.4 million metric tons and 9.7 million metric tons of oil, respectively.
The former two deposits, with an area of 678 sq km (about 262 sq mi) and 778 sq km (more than 300 sq mi) are located in the Evenki Autonomous Area in eastern Siberia. The third deposit, with an area of 462 sq km (more than 178 sq mi), is on the border between the Yamal-Nenets and Taimyr autonomous areas in the center of northern Siberia.
They are located close to the large Vankor field, which the company began developing in 2003. Commercial production at the field is planned for 2008.
"Rosneft winning the auctions is consistent with its coherent strategy to increase its production assets in eastern Siberia," Rosneft said. "The strategy stipulates the comprehensive development of oil and natural gas deposits in eastern Siberia, which will be used as the main source to fill the strategic Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean oil pipeline."
The ambitious energy project is currently under discussion at the corporate level. The East Siberian pipeline will pump up to 80 million metric tons (1.6 mln of bbl/d) a year from Siberia to the Russian Far East before being sent on to the Asia-Pacific region to Japan and energy-hungry China.
The first stage of the pipeline's construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2008. However, environmentalists' concerns over the pipeline's planned route around Lake Baikal, the world's largest fresh water body, have yet to be addressed.