Taking the risks with Rosneft

Rosneft, Eni and Statoil will together develop icy waters in the Barents Sea. Photo:

Statoil and Eni’s deals with Rosneft mark the start of a new industrial era in the Barents Sea.


“This deal is a significant step in the industrial development of the High North,” Statoil leader Helge Lund underlined after the signing of last Saturday’s historical agreement. “It fits us like a glove,” he later said in a meeting with the press. “We enter an undeveloped area in an early phase, this is exactly the way we want to operate,” he stressed, reports.

The Statoil leader also underlined that he hopes the investments will be “really big”, because “our success depends on the size of the investments and of our understanding of the areas”.

The agreement signed between Statoil and Rosneft came just few days  after a similar agreement between Rosneft and Eni. Both agreements include a long-term engagement in one the most resource-rich, and most environmentally vulnerable, areas in the world. The three companies are now likely to be key stakeholders in the area for many years to come.

Vladimir Putin, who met with Helge Lund ahead of the signing ceremony in Moscow, underlined his satisfaction with the fact that the successful political talks on the delimitation of the Barents Sea are now followed by interaction in the field of economy. “This work has a long-term perspective […] I am confident it will be successful”, Putin said adding that “we appreciate the relations with our neighbors in Norway” and “the projects will get absolute support from the Government”.

The deal with Rosenft will give Statoil a 33,3 percent stake in the Perseyevsky field, a structure located in the northern part of the formerly disputed Russian-Norwegian waters. Statoil will be responsible for the exploration of the area and spend $1 billion on the mapping of two structures in the area, Vedomosti reports. The company will also get access to promising waters in the Russian Far East, as well as two land fields.

Helge Lund in his meeting with Putin admitted that his company “for two decades” has been looking towards these offshore areas. However, it is likely that the Norwegian oil major would have preferred to get the stakes granted to Eni. Rosneft’s deal with Eni includes the Fedynski and the Tsentralno Barentsevsky fields, two structures which are located closer to the mainland and which by some experts are considered more promising.

In a comment to newspaper Dagens Næringsliv, Arild Moe, energy expert from the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, expresses surprise that Eni, and not Statoil, got the Fedynsky and the Tsentralno Barentsevsky fields.

For Rosneft, which has has its main focus on land-based fields, the partnerships with Statoil and Eni will be of key importance for the development of offshore experiences. So far, the company has proved itself unable to develop offshore fields without foreign expertise. Arild Moe believes Rosneft now fears for losing its monopoly position on the shelf and that it therefore teams up with foreign companies, first ExxonMobil in the Kara Sea and then Rosneft and Statoil in the Barents Sea. “Now they show that they get things going”, Moe says to NTB.

As part of the deal with Statoil, Rosneft will get access to fields on the Norwegian shelf, including in the Norwegian part of the Barents Sea.

Several unclarities still surround the deals. What will happen when Statoil and Eni find big resources, what will be the conditions? analyst at the Arctic Securities Trond Frode Omland says to NTB. Several experts see major risks luring. Analyst Hans Henrik Ramm describes the deal as “great”, but at the same time warns Statoil against being squeezed by the big state-controlled Rosneft, reports. “The framework conditions could be changed, the way the Russians have done on previous occasions, and that creates unpredictability, he underlines.