MOSCOW, March 29 (Reuters) - Lukoil, Russia’s No.2 oil producer, and France’s Total have signed a memorandum to develop the Bazhenov shale oil fields in western Siberia, Interfax news agency quoted Lukoil CEO Vagit Alekperov as saying on Saturday.
Alekperov, speaking to reporters in the Iraqi city of Basra on Saturday where the company launched production at its West Qurna-2 oil field, did not give additional details or clarify if the deal was signed after Russia annexed Crimea.
Interfax also reported an unnamed Lukoil representative told it the company plans to extract some 100,000 tonnes of oil (733,000 barrels) at the Bazhenov formation this year. Reuters could not reach Lukoil on Saturday.
Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil producer, has joined forces with ExxonMobil to also develop the Bazhenov fields, the major share of Russia’s shale oil reserves.
An estimated 75 billion barrels of technically recoverable shale oil resources may lie in the Bazhenov formation, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, more than in the United States, the world’s leading shale oil producer.
Russia pumps more than 10 million barrels per day but faces a challenge to sustain those levels as fields in its oil heartland of western Siberia become increasingly depleted, while no major discoveries have been made since the Soviet era. (Reporting by Katya Golubkova; Editing by Tom Heneghan)