Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Russia Failed to Meet Discovery Targets This Year for Arctic Oil, Gas and Other Strategic Minerals

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 13 – Since Soviet times, Moscow has maintained its extensive approach to raw materials by spending massively each year to find new deposits to replace the ones being exhausted. This year, however, despite spending 87 billion rubles (1.2 billion US dollars), it failed to meet its discovery targets for oil and other strategic minerals.

            That means, the ministry of natural resources says, that the amount of new oil deposits that the searchers did find amounted to only just over 10 percent of the amount of oil pumped this year (

            Six new oil fields were found, but all of them were either “very small” or so small as to raise questions about whether they should be exploited at all, the ministry reports. The situation with regard to gas is even worse. There, geologists looking for new reserves found deposits equivalent to less than five percent of the amount of gas withdrawn from the ground.

            According to a recent report by the Accounting Chamber, the imbalance between the amount of such resources extracted and that of new discoveries has doubled over the last three years and includes not just oil and gas but also gold, silver, diamonds, uranium, chrome, lead and wolfram.

            What this means is that Russia will face declines in the production of all these resources in the coming years unless it reverses this trend and finds more new fields, something Moscow undoubtedly will press to do, or shifts to more intensive development of existing reserves, extracting more from proven fields rather than looking for new ones.

            The latter course is the one chosen by most other countries in recent decades; but with rare exceptions, Russia has not made that shift, confident that it will always be able to find new fields. The new ministry report is a reminder that that longstanding assumption may no longer be true – and that Moscow will have to adapt to this new reality.

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