ExxonMobil, Rosneft sign Arctic, Black Sea deal

ExxonMobil Corp. and Russia’s Rosneft have agreed to undertake joint exploration and development of hydrocarbon resources in Russia, the US, and elsewhere, as well as commence technology and expertise sharing activities.

The partnership replaces a similar but differently structured alliance BP tried to forge with Rosneft. That effort that collapsed earlier this year when BP’s partners in the TNK-BP venture objected (OGJ Online, May 18, 2011).

Rex Tillerson, ExxonMobil chairman and chief executive officer, said the large-scale partnership agreement would “open new horizons for cooperation between ExxonMobil and Rosneft both in Russia and abroad.”

Tillerson said ExxonMobil had been encouraged by the Russian government’s pledge to reform oil taxation and to improve investment conditions for international and Russian oil companies.

The agreement, signed by Rosneft Pres. Eduard Khudainatov and ExxonMobil Development Co. Pres. Neil Duffin, includes $3.2 billion to be spent funding exploration of East Prinovozemelskiy Blocks 1, 2, and 3 in the Kara Sea and the Tuapse license block in the Black Sea.

The East Prinovozemelskiy license blocks have a total area of 126,000 sq km in 50-150 m of water. Tuapse block in the Black Sea has a total area of 11,200 sq km in 1,000-2,000 m of water. Rosneft equity interest in both joint ventures will be 66.7%, while ExxonMobil will hold 33.3%.

The agreement also provides Rosneft with an opportunity to gain equity interest in a number of ExxonMobil’s exploration opportunities in North America, including deepwater Gulf of Mexico and tight oil fields in Texas, as well as additional opportunities in other countries.

The two firms have also agreed to conduct a joint study of developing tight oil resources in western Siberia.

The companies will create an Arctic Research & Design Center for Offshore Developments in St. Petersburg to be staffed by Rosneft and ExxonMobil employees.

The center will use proprietary ExxonMobil and Rosneft technology and will develop new technology to support the joint Arctic projects, including drilling, production and ice-class drilling platforms, as well as other Rosneft projects.

Rosneft and ExxonMobil also said they will implement a program of staff exchanges of technical and management employees which will help strengthen the relationships between the companies.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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