REFILE-UPDATE 1-Gazprom launches Arctic oil field after a decade of delays

Fri Dec 20, 2013 11:14am EST
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* Russia detained Greenpeace activists over protests against Arctic oil production

* The project is almost decade behind its initial schedule

* Production plateau seen at 120,000 barrels per day

By Katya Golubkova and Vladimir Soldatkin

MOSCOW, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Russia's first Arctic offshore field Prirazlomnoye, where Greenpeace activists were arrested in September after a high seas clash with Russian authorities, has started production of oil, energy company Gazprom said on Friday.

The project is almost a decade behind its initial schedule and is one of the most controversial energy projects, seen as dangerous for the environment by the greens, who say that the drilling and storage platform is three decades old.

"We became the pioneers of Russia's Arctic development," Gazprom's Chief Executive Officer Alexei Miller said in a statement.

President Vladimir Putin has said Russia's Arctic offshore riches are of a strategic importance for the country, which now is pumping an average of 10.6 million barrels of oil per day (bpd), close to its current capacity.   Continued...