Putin: Shell could work with Rosneft in Arctic

Associated Press

MOSCOW — Russia’s state-controlled oil company Rosneft could team up and swap shares with Royal Dutch Shell in an Arctic offshore deal similar to one that fell through with BP Plc this month, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Friday.

Putin was overseeing a $16 billion share swap that would have seen BP and Rosneft jointly develop Russia’s sector of the Arctic shelf. The agreement fell through on May 16 after Russian shareholders of BP’s separate Russian venture, TNK-BP, contested it in court.

A Rosneft official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, told The Associated Press at the time that the Moscow-based firm was now talking to other oil majors to replace BP in the Arctic deal.

Russian state news agencies quoted Putin as saying that Shell could team up with Rosneft on the same conditions.

“We’ve been working with Shell for a long time. We’re comfortable working with them,” he said.

Putin said, however, that “work with BP is not over yet” and that the British company could still work with Rosneft on other, unspecified offshore projects.

The Russian government has been wary of foreign companies developing its oil and gas fields, capping their participation in energy projects. But new offshore development in hard-to-tap locations like the Arctic requires technology and expertise that Russian companies lack.