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“Shtokman launch before 2017”

An investment decision will be taken in the near future and the project launched before 2017, President Putin told Murmansk Governor Marina Kovtun.

The Shtokman project is not postponed “indefinitely”, Putin underlined in Tuesday’s meeting with Governor Kovtun.  “The investment decision is planned to be taken in the near future, so we are talking [project launch] before 2017,” Putin said, a press release reads.

Murmansk has long planned to use gas from the Shtokman field to modernize its heating systems. Murmansk Oblast is currently one of the Russian regions with the lowest level of gasification. The gasification of the region would help reduce the dependency of black oil (mazut) from today´s 83 percent to 38 percent, Kovtun said in the meeting.

“Shtokman is a key part of our regional development strategy”, Kovtun told the president and expressed disappointment with the postponement of the project announced by Gazprom in August.

As previously reported, the development of the Shtokman project in August this year crashed as project partners Statoil and Total handed in their stakes in the operating company SDAG following the expiration of the shareholder agreement.

None of the three companies have however given up the Arctic project, which with its 3,9 trillion cubic meters is one of the biggest offshore gas fields in the world.

Speaking at a seminar in northern Norway in October, corporate affairs manager in the SDAG Sergei Krivorotov underlined that “Gazprom has no plans to stop this project” and that the current situation gives the company the chance to “build a better Shtokman”.

Gazprom recently applied to the Federal Agency for Mineral Resources (Rosnedra) for a prolongation of the license.

Although having handed in its stake in the SDAG, also Statoil remains interested in the project in the Barents Sea. In a meeting with Vladimir Putin in May this year, Statoil CEO Helge Lund said that ”this project opens many possibilities for us” and that “it has importance beyond the project itself".

Commenting on the project in August, Statoil’s Information Director Jannik Lindbæk did not exclude that the company could regain a stake. “There is still an ongoing dialogue on how to make the project profitable”, he said, adding that a decision is likely to be taken in the course of fall.

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