Russia calls for Barents grouping to work on development issues

Russia wants Arctic nations to work together to solve disputes in an area thought to hold a quarter of the world's oil and gas. But as global warming melts polar ice caps, tensions have flared over exploration rights.

Dmitry Dmitrienko the governor of the Murmansk region, in Russia's Far North, has called for a formal structure to work out differences.

“NATO, EU states and Russia have cooperated successfully in the Arctic region now for a decade. Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, and I propose that the Barents Region nations, along with the US and Canada, form an Arctic Working Group. If all states agree, it will meet from next year, and coordinate investment to the area."

The call comes as foreign bidders for the giant Shtokman gas development say they have adapted their proposals to maximize Russian content, with project leader, Gazprom, saying it will favour offers which make greatest use of local personnel.

French engineering giant Technip is bidding to build the LNG trains, which will convert Shtokman's natural gas to liquid form, for shipment to US markets. Technip Chairman, Marc Duval, says Russian content

“The Russian content is maximum, and the field has been done in bilingual – in English and Russian – in order to have the possibility for the Russian speakers, only, to be able to break the field further down the road. So of course we are bidding for the deep sea phase of the project. We will be bidding in joint venture with another leading company in LNG – Japan Gas Corporation. We will be bidding in association with Russian design institutes. We will be bidding in association with Russian construction contractors, because we are not contractors, we are always subcontracting our construction. And we have Russified all of our enquiries in order for the Russian tenderers and subcontractors to maximise the russian content of the contract.”