The Russia oil company Rosneft, which is majority owned by the Russian Government, has reported finding crude oil in the Laptev Sea of the Eastern Arctic.
Rosneft holds 28 licences for the Russian Arctic shelf, granting access to what is estimated to be 250 billion barrels of oil reserves.
No estimates about the size of the recent find were given, but the relevant licence covers an area of over 17,000 square kilometres at depths of up to 32 metres. Previous preliminary estimates for prospects in the Laptev Sea totalled almost 70 billion barrels, indicating that the find could be significant.
While some doubt the economic feasibility of Arctic oil production, Rosneft clearly sees a future for it. It has already invested $1.72bn (£1.33bn) in Arctic exploration since 2012 and is planning to invest a further $4.29bm (£3.31bn) by 2021.
Arctic oil could help fill the gap left by future declines in production from Western Siberia, where wells are starting to become depleted. Production in Siberia is also taxed more heavily, which gives oil companies another reason to take on the harsh conditions of the Arctic. Rosneft believes Arctic oil could account for 20-30% of Russian oil production by 2050.
ExxonMobil, the maker of the refrigerant compressor lubricant Mobil Gargoyle Arctic 300, has been engaged in a strategic partnership with Rosneft since 2011. Together, they have launched 10 joint projects, including drilling the first Arctic exploration well, but the partnership is currently restricted while US sanctions against Russia remain in place.