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ExxonMobil to Use North American Drilling Expertise in Western Siberia

ExxonMobil Corp. and Russia's OAO Rosneft on Friday clinched a partnership agreement to develop oil reserves in tight, low-permeability formations in Western Siberia using advanced drilling technologies that ExxonMobil has employed successfully in North America's onshore.

The agreement between the supermajors is one of several joint ventures that have been in negotiations for nearly a year, which when completed would give Rosneft access to some of ExxonMobil's North America holdings in exchange for ExxonMobil gaining exploration entry to new areas of Russia (see Shale Daily, April 17; Aug. 31, 2011).

ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson said the Western Siberia area presents a good opportunity for both operators. "This agreement combines the strengths of our two companies," he said. "ExxonMobil has technology leadership in tight oil and unconventional resource development and Rosneft brings direct knowledge and experience of Western Siberia's geology and conventional production."

The latest joint venture is an extension of a previous technical research program that was set up to determine the feasibility of developing the Western Siberia reserves. An exploration and development program soon is to be determined for selected Rosneft blocks in the Bazhenov and Archimov reservoirs, with drilling anticipated in 2013.

ExxonMobil would finance the geological studies and exploratory drilling in the Rosneft reservoirs, and in the potential development phase it would have a one-third stake. Rosneft would control the remaining interest.

"We are not only looking at new geographical regions of operation but are also studying the potential of difficult to produce reserves in traditional oil producing regions," said Rosneft President Igor Sechin. "In Western Siberia, an extremely promising area in this respect is the Yuganskneftegaz region.

"Development of these reservoirs will require a combination of state-of-the-art technologies, expertise in developing tight reservoirs and appropriate fiscal terms, which the government of Russia started preparing this year. This will both help meet the growing need for energy in Russia itself and maintain stability in global markets."

A second agreement signed Friday is to enable ExxonMobil to join the new Arctic Research Center, which is to provide services to support all stages of oil and gas development on the Arctic Shelf, including ice monitoring and management, design of ice resistant offshore vessels, structures and Arctic pipelines, logistics and safety.

In the United States, ExxonMobil holds approximately 660,000 net acres in the Marcellus/Utica, 535,000 net acres in the Fayetteville Shale and another 445,000 net acres in Summit Creek, along with significant positions in more than a dozen other shale and tight sands plays.

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