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2014-09-02 18:25:00



Russia President Vladimir Putin said Monday the Kremlin may let China have a share in one of the largest Siberian energy projects, the Vankor oil and gas field.

"Vankor is one of the biggest production operations today and very promising. Overall, we take a cautious approach to letting in our foreign partners, but we of course set no restrictions for our Chinese friends," Mr. Putin told China Vice Premier Minister Zhang Gaoli.

According to the transcript of the meeting, published on the Kremlin website, the idea of inviting the Chinese came from the chief executive of Russia's largest state-controlled oil company Rosneft.

"The state authorities support this idea and we would welcome your participation," said Mr. Putin.

For more than a decade now the Kremlin has been increasing the state's hold of Russia's vast oil and gas resources, driving both local and Western energy companies out of developing the large hydrocarbons fields.

However the Russian oil and gas industry needs money and expertise, and state-controlled company Rosneft, which owned the Vankor field, is keen on accepting foreign companies, including Exxon Mobil, BP and Indian state-run ONGC, as junior partners in new projects.

As the West is pondering a new set of economic sanctions against Moscow for stirring up the armed conflict in Ukraine, the Kremlin is eager to show that it has more options eastward. Russia's gas monopoly Gazprom in May signed a $400 billion deal with China National Petroleum Corp. which envisages a supply of an average of 38 billion cubic meters of gas annually for a period of 30 years to China.

The construction of the pipeline was opened Monday in the presence of Mr. Putin and Mr. Zhang.

The mammoth Vankor field was discovered in eastern Siberia in 1988, just before the collapse of the Soviet Union. The field has oil reserves of 3.8 billion barrels of oil and 95 billion cubic meters of gas.

After almost two decades of different Russian and international companies' attempts to get hold of the giant field, or at least part of it, Russia's state-controlled Rosneft started production in 2009.