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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

LUKoil, Statoil Boost Ties

OSLO, Norway -- Norwegian energy group Statoil said Tuesday it had signed a preliminary deal with top oil company LUKoil to extend their cooperation in the Caspian Sea.

The deal came during a visit to Norway by President Vladimir Putin, who headed a large delegation including leaders from some of the country's major energy firms and Energy Minister Igor Yusufov.

"We have now written a memorandum of understanding to look at further cooperation in the Caspian," Statoil spokesman Kai Nielsen said.

"The deal mentions a field in the Russian part of the Caspian called Yalamo-Samur," he said. "We expect this to be a big field."

But Statoil executives declined to say how large the field's resources are likely to be.

"That's what we are going to try to find out, but it's too early to say anything more right now," Statoil chief executive Olav Fjell said on the sidelines of a meeting between Norwegian and Russian oil industry executives.

Statoil already holds an 8.6 percent stake in the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli field, which produces about 125,000 barrels per day, and is involved in exploration at the Shah Deniz, Alov, Araz and Sharg fields in the Caspian Sea.

"We are very interested in what the Norwegians have to offer," LUKoil first vice president Ravil Maganov said.

Besides cooperating in the Caspian Sea, Maganov said the Barents Sea in the Far North would be another area for cooperation on both the Norwegian and Russian part of the Barents Sea, expected to hold vast petroleum resources.

Executives of energy companies including Gazprom, Yukos, Rosneft, Sibneft and Tyumen are also present in Oslo and will meet with their Norwegian counterparts from Statoil and Norsk Hydro and engineering group Aker Kvaerner.

Norway's oil minister, Einar Steensnaes, has said the meetings aim to boost cooperation among the two neighbors in the Arctic Barents Sea. He also hopes to agree on annual ministerial meetings to discuss oil policy and future developments.