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The companies will pay 0.1-0.2 cents for a barrel of resources, much lower than similar licenses in Norway.
The budget will continue to benefit from the sale of regular deposits – around 100 billion rubles (over $3 billion).
The Russian government will not allow foreign companies to develop the country’s continental shelf independently.
Only Russian companies with over 50 per cent state ownership and experience in marine exploration can explore the area.
“As for the admission of foreign companies, no changes are planned, which means foreign companies can be involved as technological partners, including on the risk-sharing terms, but not as license holders,” Arkady Dvorkovich, the deputy prime minister said.
Foreign companies are already taking part in the exploration as minor partners.
American ExxonMobil, Italian Eni and Norwegian Statoil work in partnership with Rosneft and have a 33.3 per cent share.
The licenses for all the explored areas belong to Rosneft.
By some estimates the recoverable hydrocarbon resources on the continental shelf amount to 98.7 billion tons of oil and gas in fuel equivalent.