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    NORWEGIAN COMPANIES ARE READY TO TAKE PART IN DEVELOPING GAS DEPOSITS IN THE NORTH OF RUSSIA

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    MOSCOW, January 28, 2004. The biggest Norwegian companies, StatsOil and NorskHydro, are ready to take part in developing the Stokman gas deposit in the Russian territorial waters of the Barents Sea.

    Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy Einar Steensnaes spoke about it at the meeting with Russian Minister of Economic Development and Trade Gherman Gref in Moscow on Wednesday. RIA Novosti received this information on Wednesday from the head of the ministry's European Countries Department, Sergei Ivanov, who took part in the negotiations.

    "The Stokman deposit is the world's biggest gas deposit; its proved reserves amount to three trillion cubic metres of gas," said Ivanov.

    He noted that the Norwegian Aker Kvaerner company already took part, as a sub-contractor, in developing deposits on the Sakhalin Island (the Russian Far East). "Gherman Gref told Mr. Steensnaes that he was satisfied with the quality of the Norwegian company's work in Russia and with its approach to the organisation of the work process," the ministerial spokesman said.

    Sergei Ivanov underscored that the state has a considerable share in all Norwegian biggest oil and gas companies. For instance, the share of the state's participation in the StatsOil amounts to more than 81 percent, and in the NorskHydro - to more than 43 percent. The Petora company, which prospects for, produces and transports hydrocarbons, and the Gasco biggest gas transportation company are fully state owned.

    Ministers Gref and Steensnaes on Wednesday signed a programme for cooperation between the two countries in the sphere of the rational use of natural resources and environmental protection, said Ivanov.

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