The Moscow skyscraper headquarters of Gazprom was the venue for Friday’s signing of a Franco-Russian energy deal brokered at the highest levels. Presidents Putin and Sarkozy spoke just before the deal was struck for France’s Total to partner Kremlin controlled Gazprom in developing the giant Shtokman natural gas field.
And at the signing ceremony Total’s Chief Executive Christophe de Margerie said this is “an extremely important project for Russia and for the world” while Gazprom’s Deputy CEO Alexander Ananenkov called Shtokman a “gigantic gas field with gigantic possibilities.” It will also be hugely difficult and expensive to get the gas out from under the icy waters of the Arctic Barents Sea.
Total’s de Margerie said the company was chosen because of its capacity to develop offshore projects under difficult conditions. But politics also seem to have played a part; diplomats said Putin and Sarkozy got on well at last month’s Group of Eight summit in Germany and this deal is likely to cement their relationship.
However it remains unclear how good a deal Total has actually got and energy industry observers say the details seem still to be being negotiated.