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Rosneft, Sovkomflot to set up JV for shelf project services

Gazprom and Rosneft in Moscow.jpg

Rosneft and Russia's leading shipping agent Sovkomflot said Monday they have signed an agreement to establish a joint venture to service the sea component of the oil company's continental shelf projects.

With the gradual tightening of state control over Russia's natural resources, and moves to reduce foreign participation in oil and gas deposits, state-run energy companies Gazprom and Rosneft plan to develop shelf deposits in the Arctic and Pacific independently.

"This agreement will enable the oil company to reduce the burden linked to a non-core activity - providing for the sea component of shelf and other large projects in Russia," the joint press release said.

Russian Natural Resources Minister Yuri Trutnev earlier said Gazprom and Rosneft have significant experience in developing shelf deposits.

The JV will be established on the basis of a Rosneft's subsidiary, Rosnefteflot, the news release said. According to Rosneft, the shipping company has substantial practical experience in hydrocarbon transportation.

Sovkomflot expects the new project to become a major component of its portfolio of projects to ensure the transportation of oil and gas by sea from projects on the Far East and Arctic shelves, in particular Sakhalin I and II, the press release said.

"This will make it possible to considerably strengthen Russian companies' positions in the rapidly-developing sector of hydrocarbon transportation and transshipment, and the provision of services by the auxiliary fleet to oil and gas companies to implement their projects on the continental shelf, and other projects," the statement said.

Sovkomflot owns a fleet of 56 vessels with total deadweight of over 4.3 million tons. The company specializes in the transportation of energy products by sea.

The vast Sakhalin projects in Russia's Far East were launched in the early 1990s when the country needed large-scale investment and foreign expertise to develop its offshore oil and gas deposits.

Now that Russia is awash with petrodollars, causing rapid growth in its stabilization fund and gold and foreign exchange reserves, the government has sought to reduce foreigners' stakes in the hydrocarbon projects being implemented under production-sharing agreements.

A month ago Gazprom acquired 50% plus one share in Sakhalin II oil and gas project for $7.45 billion. Before the deal, operator Royal Dutch Shell came under months of intense pressure from environmental regulators for large-scale ecological destruction caused in the region.

© RIA Novosti

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