Update (7/17): Vladimir Socor’s overview at Eurasia Daily Monitor gets into a few more of the specifics and possible future implications, including Total’s expectation to spend $15 billion on the first stage (of four) alone. That stage calls for 23 Bcm of gas per year by 2013, with the eventual total reaching 94 Bcm per year by the fourth stage.
Total will form a consortium with Gazprom to develop the giant 3.7 Tcm Shtokman gas field. From the New York Times:
In the agreement announced Thursday, Total will be a junior partner while the Kremlin will retain control. The deal gives Total no claim to the underlying reserves of natural gas. Instead, the French company will own 25 percent of the operating company that will develop the area, the Shtokman field, about 340 miles north of Russia’s Arctic coast.
The project is expected to be online by 2013, but that seems optimistic according to many outside observers. This probably is the most challenging gas field ever to be attempted to be developed, with its Arctic location outside of typical helicopter travel range. Some Western companies competing for the project had pulled out, likely due to the expected difficulties, along with the unsettled history of IOCs involved in major Russian energy projects. (See Sakhalin-II, Kovykta)