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Russia's Gazprom Neft, Norway's Statoil set for oil partnership

Gazprom Neft, a subsidiary of Russian energy giant Gazprom, and Norway's Statoil will team up in oil prospecting and output in Russia and abroad, Gazprom said Tuesday.

Gazprom Neft and Statoil signed a corresponding agreement on June 5. A task force set up by both companies will study the possibility of implementing joint oil prospecting and production projects in Russia and abroad, Gazprom said in a statement. Gazprom earlier short-listed US majors Chevron and ConocoPhillips, Norway's Statoil and Norsk Hydro and France's Total to develop the Shtokman gas field off Russia's Arctic coast but announced last October it would develop the gas deposit on its own. Gazprom also said it could attract partners with expertise in liquefying natural gas and development in „severe weather conditions” as contractors, but that it would be the sole license holder. US oil major Chevron gave up its plans to join the Shtokman gas project in April.

The giant Shtokman field holds an estimated 3.2 trillion cubic meters of natural gas and 31 million metric tons of gas condensate in the Barents Sea, where Gazprom plans to build a liquefied natural gas plant. Some $12-14 billion will be invested in the project's first phase, and production will begin in 2011. The Shtokman deposit is the only source of natural gas for the ambitious Nord Stream gas pipeline that will link Russia to Germany along the Baltic seabed. (