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Shell signals intent for Russian arctic

April 9, 2013 at 8:21 AM

THE HAGUE, Netherlands, April 9 (UPI) -- Dutch supermajor Royal Dutch Shell may explore hydrocarbons in the Russian arctic alongside gas company Gazprom, the Russian company said.

Gazprom announced that Chief Executive Officer Alexei Miller signed a tentative deal with Shell board Chairman Jorma Ollila during talks facilitated by Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Netherlands, state-owned news agency RIA Novosti reports.

The framework agreement calls for general exploration of the Russian arctic and doesn't specify any particular reserve basin.

Melting sea ice brought on by warming trends has exposed untapped oil and natural gas reserves in arctic regions. Putin in February signed off on an arctic development strategy that outlines "work to explore oil and gas deposits in the Russian Federation Arctic Zone."

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that as much as 80 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and 20 percent of the undiscovered natural gas may lie in arctic regions.

Shell also signed a deal with Gazprom's oil division, Gazprom Neft, to develop shale oil reserves in West Siberia. Neither side gave a reserve estimate or schedule for drilling.

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