Rosneft and its Western partners are not targeting shale but are instead drilling to reach oil reserves known as limestone. REUTERS/Nikolay Korchekov
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A gap in U.S. sanctions allows Western companies to help Russia develop some of its most technically challenging oil reserves, and risks undermining the broad aim of the measures, a Reuters investigation has found.Three years on, however, Norway's Statoil is helping Kremlin oil giant Rosneft develop unconventional resources while British major BP is considering a similar project.Statoil is not breaching sanctions, nor would BP be doing so.When Statoil and Rosneft agreed to develop 12 blocks in Russia's Samara region in 2013, a year before the sanctions were imposed, they described the venture as a shale project.Rosneft also started describing the venture as a limestone project after sanctions were imposed, but has not amended its previous statements that described it as shale.In May 2014, just months before the toughest sanctions were imposed on Russia, BP signed a similar agreement with Rosneft to explore in the Domanik formation in the region of Orenburg, about 400 kilometers south east of Samara.
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