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Last Updated: Monday, 17 July 2006, 10:38 GMT 11:38 UK
Putin hints at Norway gas tie-up
Kharyaga gas facility in Russia, developed by Norsk Hydro
Norway and Russia already work on gas projects together
The prospect of Norwegian firms being involved in developing the Russian-controlled Shtokman gas field have been given a boost.

Russian energy giant Gazprom is deciding who its partners should be in the lucrative Arctic project.

Norway's Statoil and Norsk Hydro are among five firms shortlisted for the role in the project.

President Vladimir Putin said Russia should work closely with Norway on energy projects in the Barents Sea.

Speaking at the G8 summit in St Petersburg, Mr Putin said Norway was a "very comfortable partner" for Russia because its companies worked professionally and already had infrastructure in the Arctic region.

Shortlist

The Shtokman field has gas reserves of about 3.6 trillion cubic metres and will be used to send liquefied natural gas to the US and Europe.

Russia needs outside partners because the project is set to cost between $10bn and $20bn (5.5bn to 11bn).

US firms ConocoPhilips and Chevron are also on the shortlist along with France's Total.

Russia's energy and industry minister, Viktor Khristenko, has dismissed claims that the lucrative contracts were being used as bait to encourage the US to give Russia World Trade Organization (WTO) status.

On Saturday, Russia and the United States failed to agree on terms for Russia joining the WTO.

The talks stalled over the way that Russia restricts imports of food on health grounds - in particular criteria on US pork and beef imports.

Deals

Russian firms have been involved in a string of important developments in the energy sector in recent days.

Last week Gazprom struck an agreement with German energy firm E.ON to exchange a stake in a Siberian natural gas field for assets owned by E.ON in Hungary.

It earlier agreed a similar deal with chemicals giant BASF and is in talks with Brazil's state-owned oil company Petrobras over a string of joint ventures which could include a gas pipeline from Venezuela to Brazil, Argentina and Chile.

Meanwhile, Russia's state-owned energy firm Rosneft is looking to clear debts and bring in investment by floating on the London Stock Exchange on Wednesday. raising $10.4bn.

It has already listed its shares in Moscow,




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