Rosneft, ExxonMobil clinch Arctic deal: Putin
State-run Russian oil giant Rosneft on Tuesday signed an Arctic exploration agreement with US major ExxonMobil, just three months after the spectacular collapse of a deal with BP to exploit Russia's far northern resources.
Like the now defunct BP deal, the agreement was signed under the aegis of strongman Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. It will also grant Rosneft long-sought access to the North American market.
Putin said that the deal would see vast sums invested in the development of the far northern fields that Rosneft owns but is unable to tap without outside technological assistance.
"Today's event will of course be positively received by the international energy markets because new horizons will be opened," Putin said as he unveiled the unexpected deal in the southern city of Sochi.
The accord was then signed by Rosneft chief executive Eduard Khudaynatov and ExxonMobil Development Company president Neil Duffin, state television said.
Putin said the deal will also allow Russia's largest oil firm to work in ExxonMobil's field of operations "in the Gulf of Mexico and Texas.
"This really is a strategic partnership in the full sense of the word," Putin said.
Rosneft has been seeking a Western partner to help develop the Arctic and came close to completing a $16 billion deal with Britain's BP that collapsed following a boardroom dispute.
ExxonMobil has previously expressed an interest in working in a different Arctic project from the one eyed by BP and already works with Rosneft in the Black Sea as well as Sakhalin Islands off Russia's Pacific coast.
© 2011 AFP