WASHINGTON, June 12 (UPI) -- Russian oil company Rosneft and U.S. counterpart Exxon Mobil said they reached a deal to set up an arctic research center with an eye on future exploration.
The companies established the joint Arctic Research Center during a ceremony in Washington. They said the center would offer their respective joint ventures "a full range of research, development and technical services, with near-term focus on the Kara Sea."
Exxon said it would provide $200 million in direct funding for initial research work. Rosneft and Exxon will fund the next $250 million in programs jointly.
"Environmental safety is our priority and we believe the technologies developed in the ARC will enable us to implement our joint projects in the safest and most efficient way to the benefit of all participants of arctic exploration," Rosneft President Igor Sechin said in a statement Tuesday.
Environmental groups have expressed concern about oil and natural gas developments in extreme climates like the arctic. They say response to any potential accident would be difficult.
Warming temperature trends are leaving arctic regions thawed for longer periods during the year, giving energy companies access to underexploited oil and natural gas reserves.