NOVO-OGARYOVO, February 13 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s largest oil company Rosneft signed a deal with ExxonMobil on Wednesday, giving the US energy giant access to explore Russia's Arctic shelf in return for the ability to acquire a stake in the Alaska gas field.
The agreement “provides Rosneft (or its affiliate) an opportunity to acquire a 25 percent interest in the Point Thomson Unit, which covers development of a remote natural gas and condensate field on Alaska’s North Slope,” the companies said in a joint statement on Wednesday.
As part of the deal, which was signed by Rosneft President Igor Sechin and ExxonMobil's Deputy Chief Executive Stephen Greenlee, ExxonMobil will add seven more licenses to develop hydrocarbon resources on Russia's Arctic shelf to the three it acquired from Rosneft in 2011.
These seven out of Rosneft’s new twelve licenses, which the Russian oil giant secured last month, will cover approximately 600,000 square kilometers (150 million acres) in the Chukchi, Laptev and Kara seas.
The two companies are also studying the possibility of building a liquefied natural gas facility in Russia's Far East near the Sakhalin fields. The viability study of the LNG project is expected to start in the coming weeks.
Earlier on Wednesday Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed the need for Russia “to consider the possible step-by-step liberalization of the export of LNG.” The president made the statement at a session of the Commission for Strategic Development of the Fuel and Energy Sector and Environmental Security.
“The agreements signed today take the unprecedented Rosneft and ExxonMobil partnership to a completely new level. The acreage in the Russian Arctic subject to geological exploration and subsequent development increased nearly six-fold,” Sechin said.
Commenting on the agreement, Greenlee said: “This expansion is an illustration of the strength of the partnership that exists between ExxonMobil and Rosneft. We look forward to working together on these new projects.”
The agreement is the latest development since the two oil giants announced their broad cooperation in the field of energy exploration in 2011.
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Any response would likely boomerang on Russia – the partnership between Rosneft and ExxonMobil is a case in point. The United States has hit Russia with a third round of sanctions. This time the Americans went with a higher caliber weapon, targeting Russia’s biggest energy companies (Rosneft and Novatek) and banks (VEB and Gazprombank).