Norway's Statoil ASA (STO, STL.OS) signed Saturday a cooperation agreement with Russian state oil company Rosneft (>> Rosneft' NK OAO) to develop Russia's mostly untapped offshore energy resources in the Arctic, thus joining two other global majors, Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) and Italy's Eni SpA (E, ENI.MI), which signed similar deals in April.
The deal is structured similarly to the ones Rosneft signed with Exxon and Eni and follows Russia's approval of long-awaited tax breaks for the potentially rich offshore fields. Like the previous two, this deal was signed in the presence of Russia's president-elect, Vladimir Putin.
Rosneft and Statoil have agreed to jointly explore offshore frontier areas of Russia and Norway and to conduct joint technical studies on two onshore Russian assets. The agreement also envisages Rosneft's acquisition of participating interests in selected Statoil projects.
Under the agreement, the companies will set up joint ventures, with Statoil holding 33.33% in each, and will jointly explore the Perseevsky license in the Russian part of the Central Barents Sea and three licenses--the Kashevarovsky, Lisyansky and Magadan-1--north of Sakhalin island in the Sea of Okhotsk. The four offshore licenses cover an area of more than 100,000 square kilometers.
"We aim for early access at scale in new and promising basins, positioning us for high-impact exploration. This agreement is at the core of our strategy, supporting our long-term growth ambitions," said Helge Lund, chief executive of Statoil, in a statement.
-By Alexander Kolyandr, Dow Jones Newswires; +7 495 232-9192 [email protected]