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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Norwegian Minister in Town to Talk Gas

The Norwegian Embassy in MoscowThe arrow marks the disputed Barents Sea area, as seen from the north.
The development of the Shtokman gas reserves in the Barents Sea was high on the agenda Thursday as the Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere met with First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Stoere's talks with Medvedev - who is also board chairman of Shtokman's developer, Gazprom - come as the deadline nears for a decision on whom Gazprom will choose as partners for developing Shtokman. Gazprom's shortlist of five companies includes Norway's Statoil and Norsk Hydro.

Asked if he thought Gazprom had already decided on the partners, Stoere said: "I have not got that impression."

Gazprom will decide on its partners by March or April, Stoere said after meeting with Medvedev. Gazprom has previously said it will choose two or three partners for the field by the end of March. Also on the shortlist are ConocoPhillips, Chevron and Total.

The offshore Shtokman field is billed as the largest of Russia's planned LNG projects. The field contains 3.2 trillion cubic meters of gas and 31 million tons of gas condensate, Gazprom says.

Stoere will next meet with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday to discuss a dispute over territory in the Barents Sea, Interfax reported.

Stoere signaled the two sides were making progress on the dispute. "Conceptually, we are not far from an agreement," he said. The area is considered important because it may contain oil and gas reserves, as well as because of fish stocks.

When Stoere and Lavrov met in Norway in November, Lavrov said Russia was interested in having the countries cooperate more closely in the energy sector.

Meeting with Medvedev for the first time, Stoere also offered to share Norwegian expertise on managing oil wealth. Norway operates a fund similar to Russia's stabilization fund of windfall oil revenues.

The two ministers also discussed a ban on imports of fresh Norwegian salmon imposed at the beginning of the year. Medvedev promised to look at the issue, Stoere said. Earlier this week, Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev said the two sides were close to a deal on lifting the ban, Reuters reported.