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Putin welcomes Shell to offshore projects

Financial Times

By Isabel Gorst

Published: June 28 2009 19:47 | Last updated: June 28 2009 19:47

Vladimir Putin, Russian prime minister, threw down the welcome mat to Shell, telling the Anglo-Dutch major it could participate in new offshore oil and gas projects and help Russia build LNG tankers to help globalise its gas trade.

The offer, coming days after Russia signed a gas exploration deal with Total, the French energy group, signals a growing openness in the Kremlin to international investors as foreign investment falls.

Mr Putin said Shell’s help was needed to explore the remote, deep-water Sakhalin 3 and Sakhalin 4 blocks off Sakhalin Island in Russia’s far east.

“Your experience will be called for here,” Mr Putin told Jeroen van der Veer, the outgoing chief executive of Shell, during a meeting at his residence outside Moscow on Saturday.

Mr van der Veer said Shell looked forward to licensing rounds off Sakhalin that Russia has promised to hold since ExxonMobil’s licence at Sakhalin 3 was annulled in 2004.

Mr Putin laid to rest the ghost of a bitter dispute with Shell at Sakhalin II that forced Shell to cede its controlling share to Gazprom, saying the $20bn (€14bn, £12bn) project was progressing well and should be expanded.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009

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