Royal Dutch Shell began drilling on Thursday its first gas exploration well in Ukraine under a joint operation project with the country's Ukrgazvydobuvannia Company.
"Today we opened the first well which is expected to produce around 300 cubic meters of gas per day," Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said at the ceremony to open the Belyaevska well in eastern Kharkov region.
In an effort to tap Ukraine's potentially vast gas reserves, Shell plans to spend about 200 million U.S. dollars in drilling three exploration wells in Kharkov region within three to four years.
The official data put Ukraine's estimated gas deposits at over 1.2 trillion cubic meters.
Ukraine is seeking to boost the domestic gas production as a way to reduce its dependence on increasingly expensive gas imports from its eastern neighbor Russia.
Ukraine, which currently produces less than 20 billion cubic meters of gas per year, set a target of doubling its gas output by 2020.