Statoil’s chief executive, Helge Lund, was scheduled to attend the St Petersburg International Economic Forum over the weekend but bowed out because of the political tension around Russia. That didn’t stop the boss of John Fredriksen’s Seadrill from showing up, and signing a major deal with Russian oil company Rosneft.
Statoil sent its exploration director, instead of Lund, to the forum, which was attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Director Tim Dodson led a delegation that was in place in St Petersurburg, where we had conversations with various work partners,” a Statoil spokesman told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) on Tuesday. He said Dodson also took part in a panel discussion.
Statoil already does a lot of work with Rosneft, and it was just a year ago the former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg encouraged more Norwegian-Russian cooperation. Statoil still stresses that its cooperation with Rosneft gives Norway’s largest company access to new oil exploration opportunities both offshore and onshore in Russia.
Tor Olav Troim, chief executive of Seadrill, signed a deal under Putin’s gaze for extensive cooperation between Rosneft and Seadrill’s subsidiary North Atlantic Drilling (NADL). Rosneft will charter up to nine of NADL’s offshore rigs and NADL will also gain access to drilling sites within Russia. Rosneft will also buy a major stake in Seadrill, reducing main owner Fredriksen’s stake. Fredriksen, however, will remain the company’s biggest stockholder.
Troim said the deal had been in the works for several years. “We’re businessmen who try to respect agreements,” he said. “It’s an important deal for us. We of course respect sanctions. At the same time this is an agreement that began long before the current problems, and hopefully will last long after the problems are solved.”