On March 8, 1982, Russia obtained the first arctic oil inflow from Well No. 1 in the Peschanoozernaya area on Kolguyev Island. Kolguyev Island is a circular-shaped island located in the south-eastern Barents Sea (west of the Pechora Sea) to the north-east of the Kanin Peninsula.
Russia’s polar explorers made a lot of remarkable discoveries putting their names into the county’s history of the 18th-19th centuries. However, a real scientific breakthrough in the region occurred between 1900 and 1930. After the end of the Civil War, the Soviet government had come to realize the need for Arctic development. The 1930s went down in Soviet history as a period of active Arctic development: the Arctic Ocean’s waters were plied by hydrographic vessels and its shores studied by integrated field parties, observations begun by fixed polar stations, and legendary transarctic and North Pole flights made by the Soviet pilots.
To ensure safe and regular navigation along the Northern Sea Route they built and sailed new ice-breakers and ice-breaking vessels, put the ice patrol system in place, printed accurate and reliable sea charts, started building polar ports, coal supply bases, lighthouses etc. on the coastline and islands of the Arctic Ocean. In 1935, navigation along the entire Northern Sea Route was officially launched. The first Soviet polar expedition “North Pole-1” was led by Ivan Papanin (1894-1986)
Opening of the Northern Sea Route created a great opportunity for the Russian geologists to explore the Arctic mineral resources.
In 1935, the Nordvik Surveying Team under the leadership of geologist Tikhon Yemelyantsev was formed to explore for oil and gas in the Nordvik-Khatanga District. Over the course of their very first season in the field, they managed to discover surface oil seepages in the Taimyr Peninsula. During the next field seasons, geologists drilled a series of wells which indicated oil presence. In 1936, the Ust-Yeniseyskaya geological party led by Nikolay Gedroyts (1901-1959) was dispatched to explore the Ust-Yeniseyskaya Depression for oil and gas. During their first season in the field, they found shows of natural flammable gases in the lower reaches of the Yenisey River.
During the troubled war years, the Arctic geologists strained to increase their input into routing the energy. In 1942, the Ust-Yeniseiskaya geological party drilled Well No. 13-R to discover a gas pool while the next well turned up an oil inflow. The Nordvik Surveying Team also added another feather to their cap by drilling Well No. 102-R where the first crude oil inflow in the Taimyr Peninsula was obtained.
The trust drilled ten stratigraphic wells on islands in the Barents Sea and the Kara Sea, two on Spitsbergen, three on Frantz Josef Land, three on Kolguev Island, one on Bely Island, and one on Sverdrup Island. And soon the expectations of the Russian geologists paid off – on March 8, 1982, they obtained the first Arctic oil inflow from Well No. 1 in the Peschanoozernaya area on Kolguev Island from the depth of 1,972 m. They continued drilling and on March 21, 1982, they achieved an even stronger oil inflow from the depth of 1,558-1,561 m with the well yield of 144 tons per day. In April, they tested gas beds in that well at the depths of 1,476 1,481 m and 1,372-1,374 m and obtained gas condensate flows to the surface at the rate of 27 m3 and 125 m3 per day, respectively.
Five years after, on August 17, 1987, commercial oil production was launched on the island and a week later, the first tanker carrying Kolguyev crude oil called at the Soviet port of Kandalaksha. Since then, about 2 million tons of crude oil were produced from the Peschanoozerskoye oil field.
Oil production on the Kolguyev is operated by the Arctic Oil Company Ltd. (ANK). The company owns the license to the Peschanoozerskoe, the oil field located on the southeastern end of the island and that holds about 16 million barrels of recoverable reserves. Daily production amounts to 340 barrels a day. In 2016, the company was acquired by Urals Energy.
About 400 people live on Kolguyev, of which about 250 work in the local oil industry.
Environmental authorities are moving to designate Kolguyev Island as a nature reserve, citing the need to protect the island’s unique birdlife.
The Kolguevsky nature reserve is established in order to preserve and support biodiversity in the Barents Sea and the Arctic, according to regional authorities in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug, as a stricter environmental regime is introduced on the island.
(Source: Urals Energy/Wikipedia/Arctic Today/Barents Observer/ – Image: Drilling rig on Kolguyev Island)