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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Norwegians Seal Gazprom Deal

MTNorwegian Prime Minister Bondevik led a business delegation to Moscow.
Norwegian energy groups Statoil and Norsk Hydro agreed on Monday to work with gas giant Gazprom in charting petroleum resources in Russia's far north, the firms said.

The deal, which includes development of petroleum technology for the region, could help the Norwegian companies in their bid to join in developing Russia's huge Arctic Shtokman gas field, though no partnership for that field was signed.

"The three signatories want to use the agreement to establish closer cooperation in mapping petroleum resources in the far north," Statoil said in a statement.

"They also give weight to identifying key environmental considerations as well as facilitating the development of technological solutions for petroleum operations in the region," Norsk Hydro said in an identical statement.

Gazprom, Norsk Hydro and Statoil will set up a joint committee to carry the cooperation forward, they said.

The deal was struck after the governments of Russia and Norway signed a new energy cooperation deal during a visit to Moscow by Norway's Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik and Oil and Energy Minister Thorhild Widvey.

"We have good prospects in the field of oil and gas," President Vladimir Putin told Bondevik at the Kremlin.

Norsk Hydro and Statoil are vying with western rivals to join Gazprom in developing the Shtokman gas field in the Barents Sea. Gazprom has said it aimed to choose Western partners for the field this year.

"We know the quality, experience and potential of your oil and gas companies," Putin said. "If we can merge this with the potential of our reserves, our interests in Europe, it could have a very big impact on our countries and for the European continent as a whole."

With resources estimated at 3.2 trillion cubic meters of gas, Shtokman is one of the world's biggest gas fields. Gazprom has said it aims to develop it for liquefied natural gas for deliveries to the U.S. market by around 2010-2012.

"I completely agree with you, Mr. President, when you say we have a huge opportunity to strengthen our cooperation, especially in the north and particularly in the energy sector," Bondevik told Putin.

Statoil and Hydro, Norway's biggest and second-biggest oil and gas producers respectively, have worked to pry open the door to Shtokman by touting offshore technology deployed in the big Snoehvit and Ormen Lange gas developments off Norway. Statoil has suggested that Gazprom could take a stake in Snoehvit in Norway's sector of the Barents Sea, and Norsk Hydro has wooed the Russian group with a stake in Ormen Lange off western Norway to boost their Shtokman chances.

 Earlier on Monday, Bondevik said Norway would work to encourage democratic development in Russia, RIA-Novosti reported.

"There are certain tendencies that worry us, including the situation in the media," he said in a speech before an investment conference. "We are also concerned about the excessive centralization of power in Russia."

(Reuters, AP)