Naftohaz Ukrainy has teamed up with Naphtha Israel Petroleum as the Ukrainian state gas importer and distributor builds up partnerships with international investors to explore and possibly develop offshore acreage in the Black Sea.
As well as signing a memorandum of understanding, the pair are open to bringing in a minority partner.
Recently appointed Naftohaz chief operating officer Otto Waterlander said that a potential new partnership "will strengthen our ambitions in this region”, with Naphtha Israel Petroleum already having offshore experience through its indirect involvement in the Tamar gas project in Israel's Mediterranean waters.
At the end of December, Ukraine authorities handed Naftohaz 30-year exploration and development licences for nine blocks within the large Skifskaya acreage, with water depths up to 2000 metres.
Naftohaz has also obtained licences for 11 blocks within the Dolphin tract, north-west of Skifskaya in water depths of more than150 metres.
Dolphin already boasts two gas discoveries and several undrilled potential structures, while Skifskaya remains mostly unexplored.
Both tracts occupy the majority share of Ukraine’s Black Sea waters.
In February, Naftohaz signed a similar mutual offshore co-operation pact with Romania’s OMV Petrom, which has its own ambitions to become a major Black Sea player.
With the award of Skifskaya and Dolphin to Naftohaz, authorities in Kiev are understood to have indicated they will no longer continue searching for international companies that may be prepared to bear all exploration risks in Black Sea acreage.
According to authorities, foreign investors will now be able to share these risks with Naftohaz as a partner.
However, Naftohaz chairman Andrey Kobolev acknowledged recently that, besides exploration risks, international investors should beware the increasing presence of the Russian military fleet along the Crimea Peninsula shore, which Russia had annexed from Ukraine in 2014.