Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Total, Tyumen Oil Ponder Prospects for Cooperation

French energy group Total and Russia's Tyumen Oil Co. signed a preliminary agreement Wednesday to study prospects for cooperation in oil production, a senior Tyumen official said.

"An agreement has been signed with Total today on the creation of a commission to study possible further cooperation in production," Tyumen Vice President Kris Nikolaidis said at a news conference.

"We do not rule out [joint] work in other areas," Nikolaidis said, although he added there were no plans to form an alliance between the two.

The letter of intent follows a series of strategic alliances between major Western oil firms and Russian counterparts who are seeking to raise their international profile and compete with each other in an increasingly competitive domestic market.

Tyumen President Semyon Kukes said his company could select a strategic partner within three months. "Total has many partners. They don't ask for any exclusivity, and we are not asking them for any," he said.

Kukes said a possible partner might be U.S. company Philips Petroleum. "There is a verbal agreement for their specialists to come and study our company," he said.

Earlier this week, Russia's biggest oil company, Yuksi, struck a deal with Elf Aquitaine under which the French firm will acquire 5 percent of Yuksi shares for $528 million.

British Petroleum has formed a strategic alliance with Russia's Sidanko, while Royal Dutch/Shell has a pact with gas giant Gazprom.