OAO Gazprom began oil output at the Arctic platform where Greenpeace campaigners protesting against development of the region were arrested by Russian forces and charged with piracy, sparking worldwide condemnation.
Prirazlomnoye is the first offshore oil project developed by a Russian company in the Arctic, Gazprom said today in an e-mailed statement. Protesters who scaled the rig on Sept. 18 were detained a day later in international waters by the coastguard.
“Today we became pioneers in developing the Russian Arctic shelf,” Gazprom Chief Executive Officer Alexey Miller said in the statement, without mentioning Greenpeace. “There is no doubt Gazprom will continue to move forward in the Arctic.”
Russia faced worldwide protests and a legal claim from the Netherlands after it impounded Greenpeace’s ship and lodged the charges of piracy, punishable for as long as 15 years in prison. Russia’s lower house of parliament since passed a law offering the 28 activists and two journalists an amnesty as the country prepares to host the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February.
The 30 arrested, coming from 18 nations, remain in Russia after a court released them on bail and reduced their charges.
“This is a dark day for the Arctic,” Faiza Oulahsen, who was among the arrested, said in an e-mailed statement. “Gazprom is the first company on Earth to pump oil from beneath icy Arctic waters and yet its safety record on land is appalling.”
Prirazlomnoye in the Pechora Sea will load its first tanker next quarter and plans to produce at least 300,000 tons of oil in 2014, Russia’s natural gas pipeline export monopoly says.