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Russia considers Arctic licences for western oil majors-FT

LONDON, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Russia is considering allowing Western companies to own oil licences in its Arctic waters, Energy Minister Alexander Novak was quoted as saying in Friday's Financial Times.

The FT reported, without providing a full direct quote, that Novak said the proposal would allow foreign oil majors not only to operate offshore projects but also to "have access to production" and become "co-owners of the licences".

Novak was cited as saying the idea was being discussed in the energy ministry, although no final decision had been taken.

Only companies that were environmentally safe, technologically advanced and financially robust would qualify, the FT said.

Earlier this month, state-owned oil giant Gazprom OAO

delayed the start of production at its Prirazlomnoye field, the first Russian Arctic offshore oil deposit to be developed, due to safety concerns.

The Arctic is seen as a key source of oil in the next decade for Russia, the world's largest producer.

(Reporting by Stephen Mangan; Editing by Richard Pullin)

((stephen.mangan@thomsonreuters.com)(+44)(0)(20 7542 7931))

Keywords: RUSSIA OIL/