| MOSCOW, April 4
MOSCOW, April 4 Gazprom Neft and Royal
Dutch Shell will agree to drill for shale oil in
Western Siberia and explore Russia's Arctic shelf when President
Vladimir Putin visits the Netherlands next week, the Kremlin
The deals underscore the Kremlin's drive to open up access
to Russia's trove of hard-to-recover energy reserves to
international energy firms with the expertise needed to secure
its position as a leading global oil and gas producer.
Gazprom Neft and Royal Dutch Shell declined to comment.
The Kremlin also confirmed on Thursday plans announced
earlier by Gazprom and Dutch natural gas firm Gasunie
to sign an agreement to expand the Russian export monopoly's
supply network to western Europe.
A Gazprom spokesman said the agreement would outline the
export monopoly's plans to extend the Nord Stream underwater
pipeline to new customers, which could include Britain. Gazprom
heads the pipeline consortium, which includes Gasunie.
"There are no decisions, especially on the terms (of
construction)," Sergey Kupriyanov said in a text message. "We
are talking about the intention to cooperate in this field."
The U.S. shale drilling revolution has pressured energy
prices globally and has prompted the Kremlin to encourage
Russian firms to sign cooperation deals with companies that have
expertise in the technology.
Russia has recently stepped up efforts to drill into tight
oil, which accounts for roughly two-thirds of its 26 billion
tonnes of recoverable reserves, a share that is rising as
Russia's easily tapped conventional reserves are depleted.
The Netherlands is Russia's second-largest trading partner
with turnover last year of $82.7 billion, up from $68.6 billion
Cumulative Dutch investment in the Russian economy exceeds
$60 billion, or roughly 17 percent of foreign capital invested
overall in the country as of 2012, a Kremlin factsheet said.
During Putin's visit, officials and businessmen on both
sides will also sign several accords in the banking, chemical
industry and scientific research areas.