MOSCOW (AP) - Russia's state oil company Rosneft and Norway's Statoil signed a deal Saturday to jointly explore Russian offshore deposits in the Barents Sea and Sea of Okhotsk.
Statoil ASA will take a 33 percent stake in the joint ventures and will finance the initial exploration necessary to determine the commercial value of the four licenses, the two companies said in statements announcing the deal.
The agreement also offers Rosneft, Russia's largest oil producer, an opportunity to acquire stakes in Statoil projects in the North Sea and in the Norwegian sector of the Barents Sea.
"By building on both companies' competence and experience, this agreement is a significant step further in the industrial development of the northern areas," Statoil chief executive Helge Lund said in the statement.
He signed the deal in Moscow with Rosneft president Eduard Khudainatov in the presence of Vladimir Putin, Russia's prime minister and president-elect.
Khudainatov estimated total investment in the four fields at up to $100 billion, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.
Saturday's deal follows similar agreements that Rosneft struck with Italy's Eni and U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil to explore for oil in Russia's Arctic.
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