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Russian, French PMs Pledge Support for Shtokman

Source: Reuters 11/18/2011, Location: Asia

The prime ministers of Russia and France lent political backing to an investment decision which would bring to life one of the world's biggest gas projects, the Shtokman field in the Barents Sea, after a French plea for tax breaks.

The Shtokman project is led by Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom with participation of France's Total and Norway's Statoil.

"The sides support cooperation between Gazprom and Total on the Shtokman gas and condensate field and underlined the need to make an investment decision by the end of the year," the protocol of a meeting chaired by Russia's Vladimir Putin and France's Francois Fillon said.

The partners must take a final investment decision by the end of the year to decide the fate of the 3.9 trillion cubic metre offshore gas field.

Statoil's CEO Helge Lund has said repeatedly that for the decision to be taken, the tax regime must be set.

Total CEO Christophe de Margerie joked at an oil conference earlier this month that he would appreciate a phone call from anyone who had heard anything about the Shtokman tax terms.

"The French side suggests that the high cost of developing (Shtokman) requires changes to tax conditions, including, in part, exemptions from extraction and export levies," the protocol said.

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