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Russian oil company irked by arctic rules

Frustration emerges as Russian economy faces unique risks.

By Daniel J. Graeber

MOSCOW, April 22 (UPI) -- Private company interests are favored over those of state entities when considering access to frontier arctic territory, Russian oil company Rosneft said.

State-owned Rosneft said it was frustrated that private companies were getting more government support for developing arctic reserves than those controlled by the government itself.

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"The existing system protects the interests of the state when developing the Arctic shelf and set clear rules of providing access to private partners both Russia and foreign ones," the company said Wednesday.

U.S. energy company Exxon Mobil has a partnership with Russian oil company Rosneft for work in the arctic waters of Russia. With Western sanctions impeding developments, the Russian government has placed a greater emphasis on domestic exploitation of arctic reserves.

In December, Rosneft said it plans to invest $400 billion on developing arctic reserves over the next 20 years. If its predictions are accurate, the company said output from the region could account for as much as 30 percent of Russia's total oil production by 2050.

Rosneft said it was frustrated by government proposals for joint venture work in arctic territory, saying it favored private Russian oil companies like Lukoil. The Kremlin last year said Rosneft, the target of Western economic sanctions, should find partners in countries that have not sanctioned Russia.

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Rosneft said it could generate substantial revenue from arctic programs at a time when other energy companies, along with the Russian economy, are struggling in the weak crude oil market. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned members of parliament Wednesday sanctions pressure and low oil prices created economic problems never before seen in Russian history.

"We've never faced such an array of simultaneous challenges," he said.

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