Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom has offered possible contract work on its huge Shtokman project to the five companies that previously bid unsuccessfully for a stake in the scheme.
"Gazprom has sent a letter to the five companies on the Shtokman shortlist with an offer of possibly taking part as contractors," a Gazprom spokesman said. "Talks with the five companies will start in February."
Last year Gazprom stunned the five hopefuls - French oil major Total, Norway's Statoil and Norsk Hydro and U.S. majors ConocoPhillips and Chevron by scrapping a year-long bidding process and saying it would develop Shtokman without any foreign equity partners.
Energy analysts were dismayed by the move, saying Gazprom would struggle to complete the $20 billion project, under the stormy and iceberg-strewn Barents Sea, without foreign know-how.
After ditching the shortlist, Gazprom said it would use foreign contractors but would not offer them any equity in the project, which envisages piping some Shtokman gas to Europe and liquefying the rest for shipping to the United States.
Statoil and Norsk Hydro both said on Friday they have regular "business dialogue" with Gazprom but would not comment on any specific meetings or plans.
Both companies, which have deep-water drilling and logistics experience in the Arctic, have said they still see opportunities in Russia despite the Shtokman snub.
In December, Hydro Chief Executive Eivind Reiten said he had "modest" expectations for a deal soon and added: "We do not exclude any type (of working agreement), but for us to work on a basis where we do not get an ownership stake in the resources is more challenging, because that is a model we are not used to."
This week Norway's oil minister called on Moscow to jointly develop a petroleum strategy for the Arctic, which may hold a quarter of the world's undiscovered oil and gas resources.
A Chevron spokesman said the company "continues to be interested in pursuing various new business opportunities in Russia." He referred inquiries on the Shtokman project to Gazprom officials.
Shtokman, 550 km (342 miles) from Russia and Norway, has reserves of more than 3.7 trillion cubic metres of gas.