Post Crimea, Norway’s Statoil strengthens ties with Rosneft

Rosneft's Igor Sechin met with Statoil's Helge Lund in Norway on Monday.

Oslo called off its environmental minister’s visit to Moscow, cancels military cooperation, but has no objections that Statoil expands cooperation in the Barents Sea with one of Putin’s most important source of income; Rosneft. Igor Sechin and Helge Lund met in Norway on Monday.


Rosneft President, Chairman of the Management Board Igor Sechin is often described as one of Putin’s most conservative counselors and the leader of the Kremlin’s Siloviki faction, a statist lobby gathering former security service agents. 

On Monday, Igor Sechin – not on EU’s travel ban list – visited Helge Lund in Norway.  While Statoil has posted no information about the meeting, Rosneft has posted both info and photos at its portal. According to Rosneft, Sechin discussed with Lund the possibilities to expand the cooperation between Rosneft and Statoil. The two oil majors have teamed up for joint projects in in the Arctic, including the Barents Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk.

Helge Lund (left) and Igor Sechin signed the landmark cooperation agreement for the Barents Sea in May 2012.

The two parties discussed how to accomplish the Barents Sea projects. Igor Sechin told Helge Lund about how Russia’s new hydrocarbons exploration and development tax incentives would make the development of offshore fields in Russia 2.5 times more efficient. 

The Government of Norway holds 67 percent of the shares in Statoil, while the Government of Russia holds 69,5 percent of the shares in Rosneft.

Statoil’s technology important for Rosneft
The charm offensive by Rosneft’s top chief and Putin allied Igor Sechin started after Russia’s annexation of Crimea. In addition to Norway, Sechin’s globetrotting included five countries. The tour started in Japan, continues to South Korea, then Vietnam, then India before Monday’s Statoil talks in Norway. After Norway, he subsequently continued to London where discussions took place with the offshore drilling company Seadrill on expanding cooperation.

Rosneft hopes Statoil can aid in offshore Arctic exploration, an area Rosneft has no experiences and where Statoil is world-leading, especially with sub-sea installations. Offshore exploration in the Arctic is, together with shale oil development, critical for Rosneft if Russia hopes to maintain its output of 10 million barrels a day, and by that keep up important revenues for the state budget.

Oil not part of sanctions against Moscow
Norway has joined the sanctions EU has imposed against Russia. Norway’s Minister of Climate and Environment Tine Sundtoft canceled the first top environmental ministers meeting in more than a decade between Russia and Norway. The meeting, scheduled to take place in Moscow, was supposed to discuss the very same geographical area as Helge Lund and Igor Seechin discussed on Monday; the Barents Sea. Implementation of joint environmental standards with Russia for the Barents Sea has been a goal for Norwegian environmental authorities for years. 

Military cooperation is another area where Norway last week informed Moscow that cooperation is put on freeze, including the long-time planned joint naval exercise Northern Eagle supposed also to take place in the Barents Sea.