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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kamchatka Field Bigger Than Hoped

SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea's state oil company said Thursday that an oil field it is exploring off the Kamchatka Peninsula could hold 10 billion barrels, almost three times more than initially estimated.

A find of that scale would rank among the biggest in the world this decade, but the South Korean government warned that it was too early to make any firm estimates.

"The drilling hasn't started yet, but the estimated oil reserves are up to 10.3 billion barrels," said a spokesman for the state-run Korea National Oil, or KNOC.

With appraisal drilling due to begin only next year, the estimate appeared to be based on seismic surveys and initial studies conducted in 2005 and 2006. The standard Western practice is to put a figure on oil reserves only after appraisal drilling.

The field is jointly controlled by South Korean firms and Rosneft.

In December 2005, when South Korea sealed its investment, it said the Russian government had estimated reserves there at about 3.7 billion barrels.

The KNOC spokesman said the reserves estimate had been revised higher last November after another round of studies.