Gazpromneft, the oil subsidiary of the Russian gas giant Gazprom, is starting a different type of exploration.
The company opened a cryptocurrency mining facility at one of its oil drilling sites in Siberia, unleashing the power of Russian oil and gas resources for Bitcoin mining needs.
Gazprom, a company owned by the Russian government, is the country’s gas monopoly and the tenth largest oil producer in the world. The company has managed several mega-projects for cross-border gas pipelines such as the Nord Stream and South Stream, bringing the Russian gas to Europe.
Gazpromneft is a direct subsidiary of Gazprom and one of the few state-owned companies in Russia that has openly expressed an interest in the crypto-mining industry. Earlier this year, CoinDesk reported that Rosatom, Russia’s nuclear power monopoly, is opening its energy supply to miners as well.
The venue in the Khanty-Mansiysk region in northwest Siberia uses the associated gas from its oil field as an energy source and has its own power plant that converts the gas into electricity.
The CO2 released during oil drilling is usually a liability for oil companies as they have to burn it into the atmosphere, resulting in fines. However, there are ways to use it instead of wasting it, and power generation is one of them.
Gazpromneft is thus following the lead of North American companies such as Upstream Data and Crusoe Energy Systems, which use gas at drilling sites in the USA and Canada.
Although Gazpromneft has no plans to mine crypto itself, the company spokesman told CoinDesk that it is ready to open its energy resources to miners and piloted a small mining operation with the mining company Vekus last fall.
Vekus placed a container with 150 units of Bitmain’s Antminer S7 ASICs on the premises, Gazpromneft said via the Russian crypto news agency Forklog. 1.8 BTC with 49,500 cubic meters of gas were mined within a month.
Gazpromneft plans to expand the mining farm and get more customer ASICs as well as more contractors like Vekus. The company did not reveal how big the future farm could be.