(EnergyAsia, December 10 2012, Monday) — Russian state oil giant OAO Rosneft and US major Exxon Mobil Corp have signed an agreement to launch a pilot programme to assess tight oil reserves in Western Siberia with plans to begin drilling in 2013, the companies said in a joint statement.

Upon completion of the programme, they will jointly select blocks for commercial development in 2015.

ExxonMobil, which owns a 49% stake in the joint venture, will provide up to US$300 million in financing as well as technology and specialists in geology, development and well engineering and completion for work on the region’s Bazhenov and Achimov formations. The US firm will also provide production management services for drilling complex horizontal wells so as to evaluate and commercially develop these tight oil reserves.

Rosneft, with the majority 51% stake, and its production subsidiaries will provide staff and access to existing infrastructure.

Igor Sechin, president and chairman of Rosneft, and Stephen Greenlee, president of ExxonMobil Exploration Company, signed the agreement on behalf of their companies last week.