The development of the Shtokman gas condensate field in the Russian sector of the Barents Sea will start in the spring of 2011, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Saturday.
"In the spring of next year, an investment decision is due to be made and immediately after that, development work on the deposit will begin," Putin said.
He stressed that preparations are ongoing.
"Of course, it will take several years to put the field into operation and build essential infrastructure, but this must be done no matter what," he said.
Project operator Shtokman Development AG said in September companies developing the Shtokman field have so far invested $500 million.
Russian gas monopoly Gazprom has a 51% stake in the project, while France's Total and Norway's StatoilHydro have 25% and 24%, respectively.
Total costs are expected at $30 billion.
Shtokman, with estimated reserves of 3.8 trillion cubic meters, is to feed Nord Stream, a gas pipeline set to link Russia and the European Union via the Baltic Sea.
MOSCOW, April 17 (RIA Novosti)