Rosneft and ExxonMobil sign off on strategic partnership

By bne IntelliNews April 17, 2012

Graham Stack in Kyiv -

Rosneft and ExxonMobil signed agreements on April 16 as a first step towards implementing their Strategic Cooperation Agreement concluded in August 2011, the Russian oil giant announced in a press release.

The goal of the strategic agreement is to jointly explore for and develop oil and natural gas in Russia and to share technology and expertise, according to Rosneft's statement. The signed agreements however also detail the North American projects in which Rosneft will now take a stake.

In the presence of Russian prime minister and president elect Vladimir Putin and deputy prime minister Igor Sechin, the two companies sealed a deal to form joint ventures to manage an exploration program in both the Kara and Black Seas. Initial investment in preliminary exploration will come to over $3.2bn.

Meanwhile, Rosneft will take a 30% stake in the La Escalera Ranch project in West Texas, a 30% stake in 20 blocks held by ExxonMobil in the US part of the Gulf of Mexico, and 30% in ExxonMobil's stake in a Canadian unconventional oil play. "The execution of that project may become a source for the development of technologies for unconventional reservoirs in Russia," says the Rosneft press release.

"Overall, we treat the news as positive for Rosneft, as we expect the company to benefit from Exxon's expertise and technology during exploration of the shelf, although the greater impact is more from improved sentiment rather than any quantifiable indicator," write Alfa Bank analysts. "At the same time, the agreement with Exxon provides the company with exposure to global projects, the value of which for Rosneft will be assessed when the sides agree on the price and final terms. In any case, the experience to be gained may be significant."

On longer term prospects, VTB Capital analysts strike a more cautious note, writing that they "do not expect this deal to affect Rosneft's fundamentals, although we remain aware to the risk of misunderstandings between Russian and foreign companies. However, given the significant government support and the companies' efforts to push the deal through, we expect to see short-term support for Rosneft's stock."

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