(Adds further comment)
SOCHI, Russia, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Russia’s natural resources minister said on Friday that it was highly likely that U.S. oil major Exxon Mobil Corp and its Russian counterpart Rosneft had halted operations in the Kara Sea due to Western sanctions over Ukraine.
“I have heard information about the possibility of such an event, the suspension of drilling, but I have not been officially informed of that ... The probability is high, it’s most likely to have been stopped,” Sergei Donskoi, the minister, told journalists.
“Rosneft started to drill ahead of time ... it is still possible to carry out the drilling in the framework of the current licence.”
Bloomberg reported on Thursday that Exxon had halted drilling at an offshore oil well in Russia’s remote Arctic just a few days after the United States and European Union barred companies from helping Russia exploit Arctic, deep-water or shale-oil fields. (Reporting by Katya Golubkova; Writing by Alexander Winning; Editing by Lidia Kelly/Elizabeth Piper)