Russia's largest oil producer Rosneft has gained two new East Siberia exploration and development licences that fall within the scope of its heavily promoted Vostok Oil project.
The Russian Natural Resources & Environment Ministry awarded licences for the East Payakha block to Taymyrneftegaz, and the East Peschany block to Taymyrneftegaz subsidiary NGKh-Nedra.
Rosneft has full control over Taymyrneftegaz and its subsidiaries and assets in East Siberia after completing an almost $10 billion deal with privately held Neftegazholding in December.
The East Payakha block was awarded in January after the ministry ruled that Taymyrneftegaz's application for the licence could process without a tender as normally required.
The East Peschany licence was also awarded without a tender because the block lies adjacent to other NGKh-Nedra acreage and could be considered a continuation.
The Payakha block is a core asset for Taymyrneftegaz, which together with its subsidiaries also holds exploration and development rights for more than a dozen other unexplored tracts near the Yenisey river delta.
In 2019, Neftegazholding estimated the Payakha block held 9 billion barrels of oil after just three years of exploration efforts that included collecting seismic data over about 7% of the block's total and drilling several exploration wells.
Rosneft has been issuing increasingly upbeat estimates on its ability to quickly explore and develop Payakha and other blocks that fall within the scope of its Vostok Oil project, with company president Igor Sechin promising that large scale oil production and exports will begin in 2024.
However, the company has provided little detail to industry analysts in Moscow on how it intends to overcome the logistical, transportation, construction and other challenges involved in bringing online these remote and mostly unexplored assets in such a short timeframe.
Rosneft last week took legal action against independent industry analysts in Moscow who expressed scepticism over company’s pronouncements of Vostok Oil’s reserves of 44 billion barrels of oil and condensate and over the company’s promise to begin oil exports from the project in three years.
Rosneft is understood to have asked an arbitration court in Moscow to establish whether such public scepticism may be damaging to its corporate reputation.