Rosneft 'seeks Norway suitor' in Arctic

Arctic challenge: the Barents Sea

Russian state oil company Rosneft has hinted that it may be looking for a Norwegian partner for exploration in a formerly disputed area of the Barents Sea, according to a report.

“Working with companies that have information on this area makes sense. Norway has already been engaged in geological exploration of its (earlier) disputed areas,” Rosneft’s chief executive Eduard Khudainatov told RosBuisnessConsulting, according to the Barents Observer.

Norway’s state-run oil company Statoil, which is already a partner with Russia’s Gazprom on the planned Shtokman development, has expertise in Arctic operations from having developed the Snohvit gas field in the Barents, where it also made the Skrugard discovery earlier this year.

The Oslo government is keen to develop business ties with Russian companies, with its recent white paper for northern Norway indicating there could be joint oil and gas developments across the recently ratified maritime boundary.

The border treaty signed in July covering a formerly disputed area of the southern Barents calls for unitisation of oil and gas fields straddling the two countries’ territorial waters, according to the document.

It also paves the way for a closer co-operation for the national oil companies of both countries on exploration of the area.

At the same time, Rosneft is keen to harness offshore expertise to exploit the Arctic, having signed a $3.2 billion partnership pact with US giant ExxonMobil for exploration and production in the Kara Sea, as well as elsewhere.

The pair aim to start seismic surveys of their joint blocks in the Kara Sea in 2013.

Rosneft is also targeting three areas in the formerly disputed Barents zone, for which it has filed applications to Russia’s Federal Subsoil Resource Management Agency.

The company recently had a bid for three field licences farther east in the Barents rejected due to objections from Russia’s Ministry of Defence.

At least 15 fields in the Barents, Pechora and Kara seas have been discovered and are being prepared for exploitation, which has led to a new phase of Arctic co-operation by Russia with foreign partners, according to Voice of Russia.

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