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Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom have taken top roles advising on an Arctic exploration deal between Russian state oil company Rosneft and ExxonMobil.
The $3.2bn agreement marks a strategic coup over rival BP, which Freshfields has previously advised on the Gulf of Mexico crisis (7 July 2010).
A team from Freshfields, led by Moscow corporate partner Sergei Diyachenko and London corporate partner Frank Miller, represented Rosneft on the agreement, while a Skadden team, led by New York projects partner Julia Czarniak, advised ExxonMobil.
Under the terms of the deal, Rosneft has granted ExxonMobil exploration rights in the Russian Arctic region in return for minority stakes in projects in the US Gulf of Mexico and onshore fields in Texas.
The agreement follows the collapse of an Arctic exploration deal between Rosneft and BP earlier this year, in which the agreement was blocked by TNK-BP, the partners in BP’s existing joint venture in Russia.
The new deal will involve Rosneft and ExxonMobil working together to explore the Arctic Kara and Black seas, as well as investing $450m in a planned research centre in St Petersburg.
Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin attended the signing ceremony between the two companies in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
It is believed several other international oil companies had approached Rosneft for a tie-up since the collapse of the BP deal, including Royal Dutch Shell.