StatoilHydro has begun a two-year drilling programme in Arctic waters, to determine the potential of Norway's share of one of the world's few remaining unexplored oil prospects and consider whether to construct a further LNG production facility.

The company last month started deliveries of liquefied natural gas from an offshore field inside the Arctic circle with its Snohvit project and over the next 18 months or so, will test the area around the development to see if it can find enough resources to justify building a second LNG line.

It was suggested in an interview with the Financial Times newspaper, that the Norwegian company wants Norway to work with Russia on the future development of Arctic resources and cooperate with Russian companies to find oil and gas further into the Arctic.

StatoilHydro was chosen by Gazprom as one of the foreign partners in developing the massive Shtokman gas field off Russia’s north coast.