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Statoil mulls impact of Russian sanctions

Companies involved in Barents Sea exploration.

By Daniel J. Graeber

STAVANGER, Norway, Aug. 25 (UPI) -- Norwegian energy company Statoil stands by its partners in Russia, though Western sanctions do present some obstacles, the company's top executive said Monday.

Rosneft last week announced it started an exploration program in the Barents Sea through a partnership with Statoil.

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Rosneft was the target of Western economic sanctions imposed in response to the Kremlin's stance on crises in Ukraine. Statoil Chief Executive Officer Helge Lunde said Rosneft is a steady partner, though sanctions have complicated the relationship.

"We hope for a diplomatic solution, but of course [the imposition of sanctions] hasn't made it any easier for either Rosneft or companies working with that company and other Russian companies," he told the Wall Street Journal. "But our aim is to continue the [Rosneft] partnership, and we hope for diplomatic solutions."

Russia and Norway are the top energy suppliers to the European market. Lund said, however, bilateral ties may be impeded by some sanctions that target Rosneft's deep water and arctic operations.

Nevertheless, the partnership between Rosneft and Statoil is a "fundamental" aspect of the region's energy sector, he said.

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