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Russia eyes private boost for Arctic energy

Published on Jan 20, 2013 2:31 PM

MOSCOW (AFP) - Stalling production and global warming are seeing the Russian government mull breaking up its Arctic energy monopoly and allowing independents to survey some of the world's most coveted oil and gas fields.

The idea - debated at a top but private cabinet meeting this week - is still nascent and opposed firmly by the state's natural gas supplier Gazprom and main oil provider Rosneft.

But it could see cash-flush private players one day explore forbidding northern expanses that hold as much as 550 billion barrels of oil equivalent - nearly eight times Russia's current proven reserves.

Any breakthrough could in turn transform a global market that will already see major changes from growing exports of liquefied natural gas from North American shale deposits.

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