(EnergyAsia, February 21 2013, Thursday) — UAE’s Crescent Group said it plans to expand its cooperation with Russian companies this year, starting with two port and logistics investments.

The group will undertake these projects through its two subsidiaries, Crescent Petroleum, the oldest private oil company in the Middle East, and non-energy firm, Crescent Enterprises, which controls the world’s largest privately owned ports operator Gulftainer.

Sharjah-based Crescent Group said it has established strong Russian links over the past five years that includes a close working partnership with the country’s leading oil company, Rosneft, which is producing more than 2.6 million of b/d of oil.

In 2010, the two companies signed an agreement to jointly pursue upstream projects in the Middle East, with Rosneft joining Crescent Petroleum in exploring a 1,250 sq km onshore Sharjah gas concession.

The partners drilled their first exploration well in November 2011, and are planning a second well in coming months after completing an extensive and state-of-the-art 3-D seismic survey.

Separately, Gulftainer is investing more than US$300 million to increase its port coverage in the Baltic and the Black Sea areas in addition to plans to expand in the Ust-Luga port in Leningrad Oblast, 110 kilometres from St. Petersburg. The company is aiming to handle 7.5 million twenty-foot-equivalent (TEU) of cargo and more than 2.5 million TEU containers capacity at these ports.

Gulftainer will also develop its provision of services to include inland container depots, facilities and road delivery throughout the country while using rail services, to transfer significant volumes and improve the competitiveness of its land transport performance.

The company said it is holding advanced discussions with potential Russian partners to prepare for “consistent double-digit growth” in the country.

Describing the UAE and Russia as natural partners, Badr Jafar, Crescent Group’s managing director and CEO of Crescent Enterprises, said:

“Together, these two countries account for 36% of world oil production and 29% of world gas production. We are only just beginning to realise the full potential of this bilateral relationship.”

Crescent Petroleum is focusing its efforts on developing joint energy ties, working together with its Russian counterparts to identify new opportunities in upstream and midstream natural gas as well as power in the Middle East and North Africa.