August 30, 2012 / 3:05 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Rosneft, Statoil forge ahead with oil and gas ventures

3 Min Read

* Rosneft, Statoil to tap fields in Barents, Okhotsk seas

* Statoil to cover all exploration costs

* Statoil exited Shtokman undersea gas project (Adds detail, comments)

By Vladimir Soldatkin and Balazs Koranyi

MOSCOW/STAVANGER, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Russian oil and gas company Rosneft linked up with Norway's Statoil on Thursday in four new joint ventures, the latest in a series of moves to develop Russia's vast offshore reserves.

The two state-controlled companies will work together to explore oil and gas fields in the Okhotsk and Barents seas - part of Russia's untapped undersea reserves estimated at over 100 billion tonnes of oil equivalent.

Development of these deposits is crucial to Russia's ambitions to remain the world's No.1 crude producer, although output from them is not expected to reach customers until after 2020.

Rosneft and Statoil first agreed to work jointly on developing Russian oil and gas in May, days before Vladimir Putin returned to the Kremlin for another six-year presidential term. Rosneft has similar deals with ExxonMobil and Eni .

Rosneft will have an equity share of 66.67 percent in each of the operating joint ventures, and Statoil's share will be 33.33 percent.

For Statoil, the partnership follows the failure of another big project - Russia's Shtokman offshore gas field, which Gazprom put on hold this week due to high costs. The Norwegian company has already written off around 2 billion crowns of investment and handed back its shares in that consortium.

Rosneft in Norway?

Statoil will cover all the costs in the exploration phase, which includes an obligatory work program of six wells to be drilled in 2016-2021.

Rosneft said one of the new joint ventures is set to operate at the Perseevsky license block in the western part of the Barents Sea, with prospective recoverable resources at over 2 billion tonnes of oil equivalent.

Other ventures will explore the Magadan 1, Lisyansky and Kashevarovsky license blocks in the northern part of the Sea of Okhotsk, with prospective recoverable resources at more than 1.4 billion tonnes.

The two companies also agreed to jointly bid for some licenses in Norway's forthcoming licensing round, but it is not clear which of Statoil's existing assets may be accessible for Rosneft as part of the deal.

Tim Dodson, Statoil's exploration chief, declined to comment on possible participation by Rosneft in the Norwegian company's projects.

"There will be further discussions regarding assets we already have, but I'm not at liberty to discuss what those may involve," he said.

The initial commitment is for six exploration wells and some second and third dimensional seismic surveys, Dodson said. These are all offshore and will be primarily done in the Okhotsk Sea, he said.

"We haven't put a specific figure on it, but a well like this would typically cost $100 million to $150 million. That's a ballpark figure." (editing by Jane Baird)

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