Rosneft's output plunged in the first quarter of this year after it shed a clutch of legacy assets in Russia to privately held independent Neftegazholding.
The Russian giant shed around 326,000 barrels per day of oil production in the three months to the end of March due to the sale, sending production for the quarter to an average of 3.7 million bpd.
The asset sale also led to gas output dropping by over 1 billion cubic metres, with total gas output in the first quarter 15 Bcm, it said on Friday.
However, gas output is set to recover later this year following the start-up of major facilities at Rospan — which took place in the first quarter — with the subsidiary anticipated to be capable of producing up to 14 Bcm of gas this year as against 6 Bcm in 2020.
In exchange for the sale of the legacy fields, Rosneft has taken full control over large blocks in East Siberia from Neftegazholding, including the Payakha field.
The company argued that it requires these tracts to beef up its planned multi-billion-dollar initiative, known as Vostok Oil, to explore and develop a new hydrocarbon province in the remote Krasnoyarsk region of East Siberia.
It has moved ahead with exploration on one of these large tracts, collecting about 500 square kilometres of 3D seismic data on the West Irkinsky block during the first quarter.
West Irkinsky lies next to the Payakha deposit, which is expected to be commissioned first, with Neftegazholding claiming in 2019 that its recoverable reserves were estimated at about 8.8 billion barrels of oil.
Rosneft chairman Igor Sechin has repeatedly said that Vostok Oil — which includes 52 blocks hosting 13 deposits — will be capable of producing as much as 600,000 bpd of oil by 2024 despite the project now only being in the exploration phase, with no supporting infrastructure and pipelines built.
Speaking on a conference call on Friday, Rosneft vice president Eric Liron said the Vostok Oil exploration programme calls for the company to collect about 7000 kilometres of 2D seismic data, 7000 square kilometres of 3D seismic data and to spud 50 exploration wells, all by the end of 2022.
Rosneft's revenues were $23.9 billion in the first quarter this year, up 16% from the fourth quarter of last year.
Net income, however, fell to $2 billion as against $4.3 billion in the previous quarter.
Rosneft performed better between January and March this year compared with the first quarter of 2020, however, when it posted a net loss of $2 billion on revenues of $27.6 billion.
Rosneft also marginally reduced its long-term debt to banks and international commodity traders during the first quarter to about 5.2 trillion roubles ($69 billion).
However, its cash reserves also fell by 20% to 644 billion roubles by end of March as against end of December.