Russian state oil company OAO Rosneft (>> Rosneft' NK OAO) and Norway's Statoil ASA (STO, STL.OS) have agreed to form a joint venture to develop Russia's mostly untapped offshore energy resources in the Arctic and are expected to sign the deal later Saturday, two people familiar with the matter told Dow Jones Newswires.
The deal is expected to be structured similar to the ones Rosneft signed in April with Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) and Italy's Eni SpA (E, ENI.MI) and follows Russia's approval of long-awaited tax breaks for the potentially rich offshore fields.
Russia is willing to give a prominent role to foreign companies willing to develop the shelf, Russia's energy czar, deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, said April 16, following the deal with Exxon.
An industry source said the role of Sechin, who is expected not to join the new Russian government to be announced in the following days, was prominent at all the three deals.
Rosneft declined to comment. Statoil wasn't available for comment.
-By Alexander Kolyandr, Dow Jones Newswires; +7 495 232-9192 firstname.lastname@example.org