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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Arctic Plan May Tap Norwegian Expertise

Itar-TassNatural Resources Minister Yury Trutnev
Russia may ask Norway to help it develop a blueprint for tapping its Arctic oil and gas fields as it seeks to expedite offshore production, Natural Resources Minister Yury Trutnev said in a statement Monday.

Trutnev and Norway's Oil and Energy Minister Thorhild Widvey met Saturday in Moscow to discuss offshore development in the Arctic, which could hold about a quarter of the world's undiscovered hydrocarbons. They also discussed the possibility of Norway's Statoil and Norsk Hydro joining Gazprom's $10 billion Shtokman project and other ventures.

Russia is "always open" to working with Norwegian colleagues, "especially in the organization and implementation of such significant, large-scale projects for our countries," Trutnev said in the statement.

Trutnev is urging the government to hasten development of the Arctic shelf, saying the country would otherwise face a drop in recoverable reserves by 2015. The government last week gave the minister six months to revise a strategy to develop offshore production, which accounted for just 0.5 percent of Russia's total crude output last year.

Russia and Norway, the world's second- and third-largest oil exporters, are looking to the Barents and other Arctic seas as recoverable reserves dry up. An estimated 25 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and gas lies in the region, Widvey said last week.

Widvey said then that the talks would not touch on a disputed border area in the Barents Sea. The two countries said in February they planned to resolve the conflict and develop the area.

Gazprom, the world's largest natural gas company, plans to select as many as three partners this year for the Shtokman project from international companies such as ConocoPhillips, ChevronTexaco, Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch/Shell, as well as Statoil and Norsk Hydro, deputy chief executive Alexander Ryazanov said in February.

Gazprom plans to tap the Shtokman field, which may hold as much as 3.8 trillion cubic meters of gas, to supply liquefied natural gas to the United States.

The Norwegian companies signed preliminary agreements with state-owned oil company Rosneft to look into possible projects and joint bids for Russian fields, Rosneft vice president Alexei Kuznetsov said last month. They also expressed interest in Rosneft's Vankor oil field in eastern Siberia, he said.