Report: Russia has the world's largest shale oil reserves; Rosneft buys a 20 per cent stake in the Norwegian Continental Shelf Project; Rosneft and Exxon Mobil sign an agreement for joint research and development of the Arctic; President Putin backs the e
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  • According to reports, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the United States has announced that Russia has the biggest shale oil reserves in the world and the ninth largest gas resources. The EIA has released a report putting world shale oil reserves at 354 billion barrels, of which 75 billion are in Russia. The U.S. trails with 58 billion barrels, while China has 32 billion barrels. 1

    In another development, reports noted that Rosneft has received a 20 per cent stake in a license to develop the Norwegian continental shelf in the Barents Sea. License PL713 consists of four promising blocks. RN Nordic Oil AS will develop the blocks in partnership with Statoil, which will act as an operator. 2

    Meanwhile, Rosneft and Exxon Mobil have signed an agreement for joint research and development of new technologies which they can put in use for development of hydrocarbon resources in the Arctic with near term focus on the Kara Sea. Rosneft will take a 66.67 per cent stake in the project, with Exxon Mobil holding the remaining 33.33 per cent. 3

    According to reports, President Vladimir Putin has agreed to a proposal to extend parts of Russia’s ambitious arms procurement program beyond 2020. The Russian government has allocated 20 trillion roubles (US$ 641 billion) for the comprehensive rearmament of Russia's armed forces. Russia's 2011-2020 arms procurement program stipulates the upgrade of up to 11 per cent of military equipment annually and will allow the country to increase the share of modern weaponry in the armed forces to 70 percent by 2020. 4

    President Putin has declared that Russia will use its 2014 leadership of the G8 to push for international regulation of offshore tax havens. 5

    President Putin has said that Russia will use its presidency of the G20 to push for a radical overhaul of the International Monetary Fund and changes to its voting system to give developing economies a stronger voice. He also called for a bigger role for the BRICS. 6

    The Finnish Defence Ministry has accused Russia of violating its airspace over the Gulf of Finland. The Russian Defence Ministry, on its part, did admit that an unspecified number of Tu-22 bombers and Su-27 fighter jets had conducted flights in the vicinity of Finland, but denied that they intruded the Finnish airspace. 7

    According to reports, Russian nuclear power corporation Rosatom is ready to build nuclear power plants in Brazil and finance nuclear power projects there. Rosatom is currently implementing projects for the construction of 28 nuclear power plants, 19 of which are abroad, with ongoing projects in India, China, Belarus, Turkey and Vietnam topping the agenda. Rosatom has orders worth US$ 70 billion over the next 10 year period. 8

    Reports noted that Russia will send over 250 servicemen from the Eastern Military District to take part in the annual Indra-2013 joint anti-terrorism exercise with India scheduled to be held in October at the Mahajan field firing range in India. The goal of the exercise is to practice joint planning and execution of anti-terrorist missions in a semi-desert environment. This will be the seventh such exercise with the last one being held in 2012 in Buratiya. 9

    In other developments, according to reports, Russian President Vladimir Putin has cautioned the United States against pursuing an imperialist policy. He further went on to add that Russia and the United States have “practically no ideological contradictions now,” except that the United States’ identity is based on an individual idea whereas Russia’s focus is on a collective approach. 10

    President Putin has said that it is not right that the US State Department keeps supporting opposition activists in Russia since Russia itself does has not supported activities like ‘Occupy Wall Street’ in the US. 11

    Georgian Foreign Minister Maya Panjikidze has said that Georgia is prepared to accept Russian President Vladimir Putin’s offer to have a role in organising security at next year’s Winter Olympics at Sochi. The breakaway region of Abkhazia, which Russia recognizes as independent and Georgia considers part of its own territory, is just eight kilometres away from some of the Olympic venues. 12

    President Putin has said that foreign military intervention in the Syrian civil war is unacceptable because it would result in a new source of terror in the region. He further added that the situation in Syria could follow a Libya scenario, leading to a fight for resources and interethnic conflicts13.

    The World Bank has estimated that Russia’s GDP will grow by 2.3 per cent in 2013, by 3.5 per cent in 2014 and by 3.9 per cent in 2015. 14

    President Putin has said that Iran does observe all nuclear programme related commitments and declared that Iran has the full right to a civilian nuclear program of its own. 15

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has voiced the doubts over the allegations that Syrian authorities used the chemical weapons. 16

    President Putin has been elected as the leader of the People’s Front Movement (ONF). This is a revived pro-Kremlin movement that aims to unite civic activists loyal to the government. 17