MOSCOW, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- The head of a Russian joint venture between Shell and Gazprom Neft said a pilot hydraulic fracturing program in Siberia could lead to full-scale development.
Joint venture Salym Petroleum Development announced it started a five-well program that would use horizontal drilling to target an oil formation in Siberia.
Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, known also as fracking, are new technologies used to coax natural resources out of shale that were previously out of reach.
Oleg Karpushin, the joint venture's chief executive officer, said the appraisal program will give his company an edge in developing hard-to-recover resources.
"We hope that the pilot project will allow us and our shareholders to make decision about moving to a large-scale development," he said in a statement Monday.
In December, Russian energy company Rosneft, one of the largest energy companies in the world, signed an agreement with its Norwegian counterpart Statoil to explore the shale oil potential in the Ural mountains of Russia.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration lists Russia as the No. 3 energy producer in the world, behind Saudi Arabia and the United States.