Dec. 22 (UPI) -- A move by BP into a Russian natural gas field gives Russian energy company Rosneft a lift in Chinese and Europe export efforts, an analyst said.
Russian energy company Rosneft said Thursday it signed an agreement with the Russian division of BP to develop the natural gas reserves in the Kharampurskoe and Festivalnoye license areas in the north of the country. Rosneft estimates the region holds billions of oil-equivalent barrels in natural gas.
Rosneft will hold a 51 percent stake in the region and market any of the oil and natural gas produced from Kharampurskoe and Festivalnoye. The Russian company said it was an important step forward in developing a global gas relationship with BP.
Samuel Lussac, a research manager at consultant group Wood Mackenzie, said in emailed commentary that the field is "at the heart" of Russian gas ambitions. Production is expected to peak in the late 2020s.
"Rosneft continues to lobby for access to gas export markets, whether in China or Europe, and partnership with BP at Kharampurskoye will add further leverage to the company's efforts to secure export prices for its gas," he said.
Russia has some of the largest natural gas reserves in the world and serves as one of the primary exporters to European and Asian economies. By company, Russian energy company Gazprom, co-owned by the government, is one of the main gas producers.
Gazprom's 2018 plans include a variety of gas transmission pipelines, notably the Power of Siberia line for China and the doubling of the twin Nord Stream network crossing the Baltic Sea to the shores of Germany.
European leaders in particular are wary of Russia's grip on the regional energy sector because companies like Gazprom control both the reserves and the transit networks. Nevertheless, an October report from RBC Capital Markets found companies like Gazprom and Rosneft have worked strategically to gain leverage in the global energy market by capitalizing on chaos.
"Moscow may yet close out 2017 as the preeminent energy super power," the report read.
The United States, meanwhile, has said Russia is using its natural resources as a weapon, though the Kremlin said Washington is using diplomatic pressure as cover for its own energy ambitions in Europe and Asia.
The Russian oil producer is a target of U.S. sanctions imposed after the government in Moscow annexed the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine following upheaval in the former Soviet republic in 2014.
BP CEO Bob Dudley served formerly as a top official at Russian joint venture TNK-BP before moving to the British major.