A final decision on whether to develop a massive liquified natural gas field off Russia's Arctic coast was delayed until March, a statement from the project's development partners said on Thursday.
"This timetable to take a final investment decision (FID) is necessary given the importance and size of the Shtokman project," said a statement from Shtokman Development, a company uniting energy giants Gazprom of Russia, Total of France, and Norway's Statoil.
In the statement, Gazprom chairman Alexei Miller said Shtokman was "a strategic project for all of the partners".
"In this context the FID must be well prepared taking into account scale and complexity of the project," Miller said.
Total also defended the decision stressing that given the technological and economic challenges in a project that could last ten years, it was normal that the partners take several extra weeks before moving forward.
The partners had said in April that a final green light on the project would be decided in December.
The Shtokman field is one of the last unexploited natural gas fields in the world, estimated to hold 3.8 trillion cubic metres of gas.
According to experts, located in the Barents Sea above of the Arctic circle, the project would be a technological challenge to develop.