* Deal finalises MoU signed in December 2013
* Drilling to start in 2015
(Adds Total's statement, background)
By Dmitry Zhdannikov
ST PETERSBURG, Russia, May 23 Russia's No.2 oil
producer, Lukoil, and France's Total agreed
on Friday to set up a joint venture to tap vast tight oil
reserves in Siberia.
The companies signed the deal on the sidelines of the St
Petersburg International Economic Forum. Vagit Alekperov, the
head of Lukoil, said the venture with Total would develop fields
with around 500 million barrels of reserves.
Total said in a statement seismic acquisition will start in
2014 and exploration drilling will follow in 2015. The deal
finalises a preliminary agreement signed in December last year.
"Total's entry into the Bazhenov play, one of the world's
largest shale oil formations, reinforces our position in
non-conventional hydrocarbons, where the group has developed
significant experience," Total CEO Christophe de Margerie said.
The French oil major said last month it expected the biggest
share of its oil and gas output to come from Russia by 2020 and
plans to stay there for the long haul despite tensions with the
West over Ukraine.
Total will join majors ExxonMobil, Statoil
and Royal Dutch Shell in developing Russian shale oil,
a major part of Moscow's efforts to at least maintain its oil
output at more than 10 million barrels per day.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates the
possible shale oil resources in Russia at 75 billion barrels,
more than the 58 billion held by the United States, current
leader in shale oil production.
(Writing by Vladimir Soldatkin and Michel Rose, editing by
Timothy Heritage and William Hardy)