Russia’s Gazprom has unveiled a short list of five foreign companies that could end up as partners in its massive Arctic gas project. Originally nearly a dozen international energy giants had applied to be part of the scheme. Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil and Japan’s Sumitomo and Mitsui have been shut out of developing the liquefied natural gas project.The companies that are being considered are Norway’s Statoil and Norsk Hydro, US-based Chevron and ConocoPhillips and the French company Total. The final deal should be signed early next year, by which time Gazprom says the list may be cut down to two or three names. The project will cost 16.3 billion euros and is due to start in 2010. The companies will get a 49% stake in the venture, with Gazprom retaining 51%. The project centres on the Shtokman field, which is located under the seabed of the Barents Sea off northwestern Russia. The field contains 3.2 trillion cubic metres of gas, that is more than the world’s total annual consumption. To transport it out, a gas liquefaction plant will have to be built in the remote region.