Rosneft 'sights on US shale'

ExxonMobil has projects in the Permian basin of West Texas

Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft is set to gain access to North American unconventional projects through a joint venture with US giant ExxonMobil set to be formalised on 16 April, according to a report.

Rosneft was offered a role in several projects under a landmark $3.2 billion deal for joint exploration in the Arctic, as well as the Black Sea, aimed at unlocking 36 billion barrels of oil reserves in the untapped Russian offshore province.

The Russian company has chosen three projects to start with as part of the pact, though others will eventually be pursued, industry sources told Reuters.

Rosneft's focus in North America will be on unconventional hydrocarbons,  including shale oil and shale gas.

ExxonMobil has unconventional projects in the Permian basin in West Texas as well as several unconventional fields in Canada.

Under the terms of the deal inked in August last year, the pair will also look at joint development of tight oil resources in Western Siberia that has regained its appeal at higher oil prices, while conventional sources are in steep decline.

Rosneft has estimated oil reserves of 2.5 billion tonnes (19.7 billion barrels) in the shales of the Bazhenov formation in West Siberia.

Russian companies have little experience in developing tight oil and are looking to adopt technologies developed by US players to exploit the resource.

Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin will present the joint-venture project to analysts along with ExxonMobil chief executive Rex Tillerson and Rosneft counterpart Eduard Khudainatov on 18 April in New York.

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