Strategic cooperation agreements inked with ExxonMobil Corp. on Monday will give Russian state-owned OAO Rosneft its first investments in North American oil and gas fields.

In return, ExxonMobil gains expanded access to Russia’s technically challenging offshore fields in the Kara and Black seas of the Arctic — as well as more access to Russia’s uneven business environment; initial exploration costs for the ventures are estimated at more than $3.2 billion (see Daily GPI, Aug. 31, 2011).

In North America the agreements give Rosneft access to U.S. and Canadian unconventional plays, as well as prospects in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM):

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin last week promised access and tax breaks to private companies interested in developing Russia’s Arctic region — both considered sticking points with Irving, TX-based ExxonMobil.

“These agreements are important milestones in this strategic relationship,” said ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson. “Our focus now will move to technical planning and execution of safe and environmentally responsible exploration activities with the goal of developing significant new energy supplies to meet growing global demand.”

The producers also agreed to jointly develop tight oil production technologies in Western Siberia, which would enable them to later discuss undertaking joint ventures to explore and develop prospective areas with unconventional oil potential in Russia.

The companies are planning to update the agreements in a webcast presentation to analysts on Wednesday accessible on ExxonMobil’s website.

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