Putin met with Statoil´s CEO, Helge Lund, on Friday, but Gazprom (owned by the Russian government) is the leading player in the field. Statoil (owned by the Norwegian government) holds a 24 percent share of the Shtokman Development AG, the joint venture responsible for the project. Gazprom holds 51 percent, while Total (from France) holds 25 percent.
This ownership could change in the nearest future.
"You have a very good and big project with Gazprom" Putin said to Lund. "The huge production assets of Shtokman have global significance and we have to make active progress," Putin said, according to the Barents Observer.
Statoil could exit from the project and discussions with Gazprom are taking place. Speculations surrounding Shell to take over from Statoil have emerged.
Reports say that Gazprom wants to get rid of Statoil, due to conflicting views on the project development model.
Statoil has officially supported Gazprom's intention to skip the project's pipeline part and instead develop Shtokman as a 100 percent LNG project.
Statoil has long stressed that project development costs need to be reduced and that tax breaks must be introduced. The development costs for the project's first phase have reportedly grown to about $30 billion, up from the originally planned $20 billion.
Statoil has invested around $1.5 billion in the Shtkoman project, which it could lose if pulling out.