Norwegian energy group Statoil said Monday it intended to continue its partnership with Russia's Rosneft, despite Western economic sanctions imposed on Moscow for its role in the Ukranian crisis.
"Of course, (the imposition of sanctions) hasn't made it any easier for either Rosneft or companies working with that company and other Russian companies," Statoil chief executive Helge Lund told Dow Jones Newswires.
"But our aim is to continue the (Rosneft) partnership, and we hope for diplomatic solutions" to the tensions between the West and Russia, he added on the sidelines of a press conference on the oil industry in Stavanger in southwestern Norway.
In May 2012, the state-controlled Russian and Norwegian giants announced a strategic partnership, Rosneft's third alliance with a Western company after US-based ExxonMobil and Italy's Eni.
The partnership with Statoil concerns joint explorations in the Arctic and East Asia.
Western sanctions against Russia targeting sales of technology destined for some areas of the oil sector -- shale oil, deep-water oil and Arctic production -- could affect the development of the agreement.
"This will be a more bureaucratic process, so that things will take more time," Lund said.
Norway is not a member of the European Union, but imposed similar sanctions to those decided by the bloc.
The Nordic country and, to a larger extent, Russia are the biggest fossil fuel producers in Europe.
Earlier this month, Statoil and Rosneft began exploration in Norwegian waters of the Barents Sea, in the joint Pingvin exploration licence granted by Norwegian authorities in 2013.
Rosneft also anticipated the coming into force of the sanctions as it announced in late July the lease until 2022 of six rigs from North Atlantic Drilling (NADL), a subsidiary of Norway's Seadrill.
Worth $4.25 billion (3.22 billion euros), the contract will enable the group to obtain high technology, which would most likely have been banned by the sanctions.
Rosneft reinforced its links last week with NADL by getting 30 percent of its capital against the sale of 150 on-shore drilling units to this company, plus a non-disclosed amount of money.