Rush to tap Arctic

Gazprom and Rosneft have announced plans to accelerate exploration and development of five Arctic oil and gas fields. The companies agreed to complete construction of an ice-class drilling rig in 2004 and extract the first crude from the Prirazlomnoye deposit in 2005. Gazprom plans to tap new fields to boost output by a fifth to a record 630 billion cubic meters by 2030. The company has held talks with ConocoPhillipss, about building a USD 10 billion LNG plant and about tankers to ship the fuel to the US. Total SA, Norsk Hydro ASA, Fortum Oyj and ONGC Videsh Ltd. have also expressed interest in some of the projects. The five deposits hold estimated reserves of 6.1 trillion cubic meters of gas and 2.8 billion barrels of crude.

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