Rosneft teams up with Norway's Statoil for Arctic oil

Russia's state-owned oil company Rosneft has been awarded a 20-per cent stake in one of Norway's most promising oil fields in the Barents Sea in the Arctic, marking a firm entry for the Russian petroleum giant into Norwegian continental shelf.

Rosneft's wholly-owned indirect subsidiary RN Nordic Oil AS has been granted the licence PL713 which covers an area of over 1,200 sq.km. The acreage is one of the biggest that has been applied for by Rosneft, the company said in a statement yesterday.

The lease area comprises four promising blocks and is located adjacent to the recently discovered Castberg oil fields. Norwegian oil and gas major Statoil ASA, which has been awarded six more licences in the Barents Sea, will be the operator of the project.

''Rosneft's entry also marks a major step in developing a long-term cooperation with Statoil - a strategic partner of Rosneft. Rosneft and Statoil will apply their best practices when implementing the cooperation agreement for exploration and further successful development of resources in this technologically and climatically challenging region,'' the company said.

Rosneft vice president for offshore projects Zeljko Runje said, ''We are pleased to have been awarded the license and look forward to making active contributions to the license work programme.''

''We are convinced that application of latest technologies jointly with our strategic partner Statoil will enable us to develop these acreages in the most efficient way,'' Runje further said.

Statoil senior vice president for exploration Gro Gunleiksrud Haatvedt said, "We look forward to close cooperation with our new partner Rosneft both in the Norwegian and the Russian parts of the Barents Sea, leveraging our companies' combined experience of operating in frontier environments."

According to Statoil the Barents Sea is a prolific oil and gas region with significant yet-to-find resources. It will require a significant effort to develop the opportunities that lie in this immature area.

The deal comes just two days after Rosneft executed a partnership agreement with US oil giant ExxonMobil Corp to set up an Arctic research centre in Russia and a broad technology sharing accord. (See: Rosneft, ExxonMobil to establish Arctic Research Centre)

Rosneft chief executive Igor Sechin said that the research centre will be a platform for development of the most up-to-date and efficient technologies aimed at project implementation in complex and challenging climate and technological conditions.