A subsidiary of Russian state-owned OAO Rosneft has acquired a 30% interest in 20 deepwater Gulf of Mexico (GOM) exploration blocks held by ExxonMobil Corp.

Details of the sale weren't disclosed. However, it's not a surprise. The two struck a strategic cooperation agreement in 2011 swapping access in Russia's Arctic offshore and other areas, while Rosneft gained access to U.S. and Canadian plays in the onshore and GOM (see Daily GPI, Aug. 31, 2011).

The 20 blocks in which Rosneft is buying an interest are in the Western and Central GOM. Included are the Western GOM's Alaminos Canyon blocks 569, 612, 613, 655, 656, 657, 698, 699, 700 and 701; East Breaks 429, 471, 472, 473 and 515; and Keathley Canyon 529 and 573. In the Walker Ridge area of the Central GOM, Rosneft opted to buy stakes in blocks 629, 673 and 717.

Last year, Rosneft was given an option to take an interest in 20 deepwater blocks of its choosing of the GOM (see Daily GPI, April 17, 2012). At that time it also had an option to acquire 30% stakes in the Delaware Basin in West Texas and in the Cardium formation in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin. All together the prospects were said to be worth more than $3 billion.

ExxonMobil would retain a 70% interest in the GOM blocks and remain the operator. An analysis of seismic data is ongoing; there is no production now.

"This agreement provides Rosneft and its affiliates with access to one of the world's most prolific basins," said Rosneft President Igor I. Sechin. "We believe joint efforts of our companies will ensure the most efficient development of these blocks, with application of the latest technologies and adhering to high environmental standards. Moreover, experience and knowledge acquired in the process may potentially be used when developing deepwater blocks in Russia, including in the Tuapse Trough in the Black Sea as envisaged under the strategic cooperation agreement."

The companies plan to continue to exchange technical and management staff to strengthen their working relationship.

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