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U.S. energy behemoth ExxonMobil Corporation (XOM - Analyst Report) and Rosneft – Russia’s biggest oil producer – have decided to extend their joint venture (JV) agreement signed two years ago. This deal entails the addition of 7 more licenses to develop hydrocarbon resources on Russia's Arctic shelf and a plan to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the Russian Far East.

The latest development now involves approximately 150 million acres covering potential exploration fields in Russia’s Arctic territory on Alaska's North Slope. The 7 new blocks are in the Chukchi Sea (covering Severo-Vrangelevsky-1, Severo-Vrangelevsky-2 and Yuzhno-Chukotsky blocks), Laptev Sea (Ust’ Oleneksky, Ust’ Lensky and Anisinsko Novosibirsky) and Kara Sea (Severo Karsky block). Russia’s Arctic territory is considered one of the least explored prolific offshore regions worldwide.

In recent times, Italian energy major Eni SpA (E - Analyst Report) and Norwegian oil and gas company Statoil ASA (STO - Analyst Report) have also joined hands with Rosneft to develop Arctic fields.

Under a separate concord, state-controlled Rosneft will have the option to acquire a 25% stake in ExxonMobil's Point Thomson division. The U.S. energy major contends that this unit is estimated to hold 25% of the known natural gas resources buried under Alaska's North Slope. Point Thomson is anticipated to restrain 8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, about 300 million barrels of gas condensate liquids, and traditional crude oil. Its expansion is believed to a major development for an Alaskan natural gas pipeline.

ExxonMobil owns 62.5% of Point Thomson. The participation in Point Thomson is expected to enhance Rosneft's footprint to the newest gas and condensate field development know-how used in harsh weather conditions.

Moreover, the two companies signed a memorandum of understanding to study the feasibility of developing LNG assets in far east Russia. The study will also look at the possibility of constructing an LNG facility on the island of Sakhalin, off Russia's Pacific coast.

Recently, the Russian oil behemoth also agreed to a separate $14.2 billion accord for its purchase of a 50% stake in TNK-BP, from a consortium of Soviet billionaires. Last year, Rosneft inked a deal to take over Anglo-Russian oil company TNK-BP from its joint owners, the AAR consortium and BP plc (BP - Analyst Report), for $55 billion. Upon successful completion of the deal, Rosneft will likely turn out to be the world's largest listed oil producer.

ExxonMobil is the world’s best-run integrated oil company given its track record of superior return on capital employed. This deal could unlock about 36 billion barrels of oil reserves in the unexploited Russian offshore province. Such development will boost its earnings in the near future.

ExxonMobil has a Zacks Rank #3, which translates into a Hold rating for a period of one to three months.
 

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