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Russia starts drilling on its northernmost oil well, off the coast of Siberia in the Kara Sea

Russian President Vladimir Putin watches a video-bridge with Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin and Glenn Waller, ExxonMobil's lead manager in Russia in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014. U.S. oil giant Exxon Mobil began drilling for oil in Russia's Arctic on Saturday .(AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service)

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Russian President Vladimir Putin watches a video-bridge with Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin and Glenn Waller, ExxonMobil's lead manager in Russia in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014. U.S. oil giant Exxon Mobil began drilling for oil in Russia's Arctic on Saturday .(AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service)

MOSCOW - Russia has begun drilling on its northernmost oil well, in the Kara Sea off the northern coast of Siberia.

The well is part of a joint project between the Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft and ExxonMobil to develop the region's oil reserves, which are estimated at up to 100 billion barrels.

The Russian-American project comes despite deteriorating relations between Washington and Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine, in which each side has hit the other with sanctions.

President Vladimir Putin, who gave the signal to begin the drilling Saturday in a video linkup between the Arctic and his summer residence in Sochi, praised the project as an example of "pragmatism and common sense."

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