(Adds details, background, quotes)
By Denis Pinchuk and Katya Golubkova
MOSCOW, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Russian state-controlled oil company Rosneft will not be able to resume drilling in the Kara Sea this year after Western sanctions halted its cooperation with ExxonMobil, two company sources told Reuters on Friday.
“There will be no drilling in 2015. There is no platform and it is too late to get one. The project was initially created for Exxon’s platform,” a Rosneft source said.
The second source confirmed this.
Asked for comment, Rosneft said: “In 2015, Rosneft will ensure implementation of its licence obligations related to geological exploration in the Kara Sea.”
Usually licences give companies a certain period of time to complete work. Rosneft did not give the timeframe offered by the licence.
The second Rosneft source said the company planned to resume drilling in 2016. “We will definitely resume drilling in 2016 on our own after finding a platform. The Arctic is our priority,” the source said.
Russia is the world’s top oil producing nation, where output hit a post-Soviet high of an average 10.58 million barrels per day (bpd) last year.
But the country needs to explore new areas such as the Arctic or for shale oil because its resources in Western Siberia, Russia’s main oil producing region, are depleting.
Rosneft was drilling in the Kara Sea using the West Alpha platform, owned by Seadrill subsidiary North Atlantic Drilling .
The rig returned to Norway in mid-October after completing the well in the Kara Sea in late September. The rig is on contract with Exxon until July 2016. (Reporting by Denis Pinchuk and Katya Golubkova, additional reporting by Balazs Koranyi in Oslo; editing by Elizabeth Piper)