Russia's Gazprom energy giant has indefinitely postponed development of the Shtokman natural gas field it has been pursuing with French and Norwegian partners, a Gazprom official said on Wednesday.
"The investment decision on Shtokman has been postponed for an indefinite period," a source at the company told AFP on condition of anonymity, confirming earlier Russian news agency reports.
In mid-July, shortly after the expiration of a framework agreement with France's Total and Norway's Statoil, Gazprom's chief executive Alexei Miller said the company would make a final choice of foreign partners in early autumn.
The investment decision had been repeatedly pushed back because the parties faced uncertain global demand and could not agree whether the project should focus on pipeline or liquified natural gas production.
Total, which had been paying for the initial exploration and design together with Statoil, has also complained of cost overruns in the Gazprom-managed project.
In May, Gazprom announced it was switching the field to liquefied natural gas production and talked of the possible involvement of Royal Dutch Shell.
Earlier this month Statoil formally gave up its 24 percent share in the Shtokman Development international consortium created to develop the field, though the group said it was still open to involvement.
Total, which has a 25 percent share, has said many times that it is still interested in the Shtokman project. The company declined to comment when contacted by telephone on Wednesday.
First discovered in the late Soviet era, the field is one of the world's largest and believed to hold enough natural gas to meet the world's entire demand for a year.
It it still untapped because of its forbidding Arctic surroundings and great depth.