Rosneft is ready to dish out a 3D seismic contract as it lines up a large exploration drive on a remote block in East Siberia, Russia.

The country's largest oil producer is looking for a contractor to shoot more than 1000 square kilometres of seismic data on the Middle Biryuksky block in the Yakutia region, according to a recent tender disclosure notice.

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The block, for which Rosneft won a licence in 2014, covers about 5800 square kilometres and is believed to contain mostly gas reserves.

According to the tender notice, Rosneft may be ready to pay up to 3.4 billion roubles ($45.5 million) for the job that will continue for three years from 2022 to 2024, with applications to be accepted until 22 June.

In March, Rosneft revealed in another tender notice that it is also planning to drill a second exploration well on the block next year.

The company has not disclosed results from the first well that it spudded on the block in 2020 following interpretation of initial 2D seismic data gathered in 2016.

Soviet era deep well accident

Four out of six exploration wells that were drilled by Soviet geologists on the tract in the first half of 1980s found non-commercial gas reserves at depths of around 1000 metres, according to Russian subsurface agency Rosnedra.

One well was dry, while another reached a depth of about 4000 metres.

This well penetrated a highly pressured formation that led to a blowout, with the subsequent uncontrolled flow from the well estimated at the rate of up to 2.5 million cubic metres per day of gas.

Gas discovery in Yakutia

Industry analysts in Moscow have pointed to recent exploration success on the Lower Dzherbinsky block in the Yakutia region where Rosneft announced a gas and condensate discovery in January.

Rosneft won a licence for this tract in the same auction where it obtained rights for the Middle Biryuksky tract.

According to the oil producer, following the drilling of an exploration well on Lower Dzherbinsky last year, it penetrated a gas-bearing structure.

Rosneft later estimated its recoverable reserves at over 75 billion cubic metres of gas and about 10.5 million barrels of condensate.

Export options

Any potential oil and condensate reserves at either block could be commercialised because of the close proximity of the strategic East Siberia–Pacific Ocean oil pipeline where Rosneft is currently the largest shipper.

But industry analysts have pointed to potential difficulties for Rosneft in arranging gas exports from the block, as the Sila Sibiri gas export pipeline, running from the Chayanda gas field to China, is fully controlled by state-owned gas monopoly Gazprom.

Rosneft has unsuccessfully challenged Gazprom’s monopoly over Sila Sibiri, arguing that the state should provide equal access for third parties to the export pipeline.