Exxon Mobil Corp. signed a deal with Russia's Rosneft on Thursday to develop oil and gas resources in the Black Sea, a new boost for the country's lucrative energy sector despite concerns about the challenges of investing there.
Exxon Mobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson announced the deal with Rosneft Chairman Igor Sechin, who is also Russia's deputy prime minister, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
They did not immediately disclose the potential value of the deal, but said it could lead to crude oil sales to Rosneft's Tuapsinsky refinery and other Black Sea markets.
The agreement gives Exxon access to Russian resources and Russia access to Exxon's technology. They will explore an 11,200-square-kilometer (4,300-square-mile) deep water offshore area in Russia's sector of the Black Sea.
"It's an important opportunity to expand our activities to new areas now," Tillerson told reporters at the announcement.
Sechin hailed the deal as a sign that Russia is open for investment.
Last week oil giant BP Ltd. signed a deal with Rosneft to exploit the Arctic Sea, and BP chief Bob Dudley insisted that he was confident about the investment climate in Russia despite his companies difficulties with Russian investments in the past.
Exxon Mobil had been on the verge of buying a large share of Russian company Yukos before its chief, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was jailed in 2003, in a case that has stained Russia's investment reputation for the past eight years.
Khodorkovsky has accused Sechin of initiating the legal onslaught against him and Yukos, once Russia's largest and fastest growing oil company. Yukos' prime assets were passed to Rosneft — now Russia's largest oil company itself.
Concerns about Russia's legal problems, state interference and security — after a deadly airport bombing Monday — have surfaced at the Davos forum.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev gave a speech Wednesday night in which he insisted that investors shouldn't be scared away.
© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.