Russian energy company Rosneft and Norway's Statoil signed a strategic cooperation agreement to explore offshore frontier areas in the arctic. Rosneft controls a 66.6-percent stake in joint ventures aimed at exploring the Barents and Okhotsk Seas. The licenses cover more than 38,600 square miles, which is the equivalent of 200 exploration blocks on the Norwegian continental shelf.
"We aim for early access at scale in new and promising basins, positioning us for high impact exploration," said Statoil Chief Executive Officer Helge Lund in a statement. "This agreement is at the core of our strategy, supporting our long term growth ambitions."
Work on exploration wells in the license areas could begin as early as 2016, Statoil said.
A proposed January 2011 deal between British energy company BP and Rosneft for work in the arctic collapsed after BP's joint venture in Russia, TNK-BP, complained the proposal violated the terms of its shareholder agreement. Rosneft later landed a similar deal with U.S. supermajor Exxon Mobil.