Putin urges Statoil to make Shtokman decision
President Vladimir Putin urges partners in the Shtokman gas project to speed up a final investment decision.
"So far, there has been no final decision on Shtokman, but we have to move actively," he said in a meeting with Statoil’s CEO Helge Lund in Moscow on Friday.
“You have a very good and big project with Gazprom” Putin said to Lund. “The huge production assets of Shtokman have global significance and we have to make active progress”.
Putin also said that a decision could be made during an international economic forum in St. Petersburg in June. “I believe we have every chance of moving forward”, he added, Gazprom's web site reads.
Despite speculations around Statoil’s possible exit out of the project, Lund confirmed that his company is continuing its discussions with Gazprom: “This project opens many possibilities for us. We are working hard for the meeting in St. Petersburg, for making progress”. Helge Lund spoke of the significance of the field, saying it has "importance beyond the project itself".
Earlier on Friday sources close to the Gazprom leadership said that Shell might replace Statoil in the giant gas project in the Barents Sea. License holder Gazprom wants the Norwegian company out of the project, reportedly because of conflicting views on the project development model. Officially, Statoil fully supports Gazprom’s intention to skip the project’s pipeline part and instead develop Shtokman as a 100 percent LNG project. However, according to the source, the company in internal discussions “distances itself from this idea”.
Statoil holds a 24 percent share of the Shtokman Development AG, the joint venture responsible for the project. Gazprom holds 51 percent, while Total holds 25 percent.
Statoil has long stressed that project development costs need to be reduced and that tax breaks must be introduced. The development costs for the project's first phase have reportedly grown to about $30 billion, up from the originally planned $20 billion.
If pulling out of Shtokman, Statoil might risk losing the about $1.5 billion which the company has invested in the project.