MOSCOW, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- Joint Drilling started Saturday in Russia's northernmost offshore exploration well, marking an important step for the country in its efforts to test the potential of the unexplored Arctic Ocean.
Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the start signal through a teleconference for the drilling of the 700-million-dollar oil well in the East Prinovozemelsky field in the Kara Sea.
The drilling is one of the joint development projects of four sea shelf deposits off Siberian northern shores between Russian state oil company Rosneft and U.S. oil and gas giant ExxonMobil.
Putin said this is another important step in the development of the Arctic's promising deposits, calling Exxon Russia's long- standing and reliable partner.
"We value our relations. I am convinced that Rosneft's joint projects with Exxon and other companies would benefit our national economies and help strengthen a global energy situation, develop breakthrough technologies, and create new jobs," he said.
The drilling will continue until the end of October before the ice period starts, according to the Interfax news agency. The West Alpha rig has been especially equipped with an innovative ice control and ice defense system for drilling in harsh climate conditions.
Putin said that businessmen should be guided by pragmatism and common sense, "despite difficulties in current political trends." He praised Exxon's move as "truly responsible and businesslike," and stressed that Russia is open to cooperation expansion with partners.
The two giants have been cooperating at the Arctic oil sites since 2011, as well as the joint development of an oil deposit in the Black Sea. In June 2012, Rosneft also struck a deal with Exxon on the joint project of a tight oil deposit in Western Siberia.
As Washington imposed new sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis last week, Rosneft chairman Alexander Nekipelov expressed hope that the cooperation between Rosneft and Exxon would not be affected.
Rosneft was added to a list of Russian companies under U.S. sanctions on July 16.