Rosneft has invited Japan to invest in the giant Arctic project "the East»

Russia's Rosneft is looking for Japanese investors to develop giant oil fields.

Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin is seeking investment in the company's $ 157 billion Vostok oil project in the Russian Arctic from Japanese trading houses and oil companies, three sources told Reuters. Vostok Oil is a company recently formed to combine Rosneft's projects in Northern Russia, including the Lodochnoye, Tagulskoye and Suzunskoye fields, as well as other projects, including a joint venture with BP Ermak Neftegaz. According to two sources, the project will require the construction of pipelines, roads, a seaport and other infrastructure. Crude oil is expected to be shipped to Asia via the Northern sea route (NSR).

Sechin needs support because of the huge investments needed to develop the fields. Russian Deputy energy Minister Pavel Sorokin told reporters last month that the Vostok project would require about 10 trillion rubles ($157 billion) of investment.

Sechin briefed officials from Japanese companies including Mitsubishi Corp, Mitsui & Co, Itochu Corp and Inpex Corp, two sources said. A third source who attended the meeting at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Tokyo said Japan Petroleum Exploration Co (JAPEX) and Marubeni were also at the meeting. A third source said that about 50 people attended the meeting, and about 10 from the Russian side. According to the source, Sechin did not say how much investment he wants from Japanese investors, but gave preliminary data on the project.

"We are not sure if they will be able to implement this project. We have to think about it, " the source said. "There were no figures, it was just the first step to outline the project."

It was the first foreign presentation of the project by the Russians; Sechin also plans to seek investors in China and India, the source said. According to two sources, Rosneft wants Japanese investors to cover 10 to 40% of the project's costs.

JAPEX, Mitsui and Itochu confirmed that they had sent officials to meet with Sechin, but declined to comment further, saying only that no decision had been made to invest in the East. A Mitsubishi spokesman said no decision had yet been made on the East and declined to comment further. Inpex and Marubeni declined to comment.

The Russian government has generally agreed to a new package of tax incentives to promote the development of the Arctic, which is seen as a new oil-producing region for Russia and is among the world's largest oil exporters, said Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Trutnev.

"If there are no tax breaks, the project will not be economical," said a source who attended Sechin's meeting.

Rosneft expects to produce up to 100 million tons of oil per year (2 million barrels per day), or a fifth of what Russia currently produces.

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