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France's Total Cedes To Gazprom Its Stake In Shtokman

The French energy firm Total says it has pulled out of the Shtokman natural gas project in the Barents Sea --a project which has been frozen for two years -- ceding its stake to Russian gas giant Gazprom.

"Total has passed to Gazprom its 25 percent share in Shtokman Development AG and expressed its interest to further cooperate on the project should it enter an active phase," Total said in a statement, confirming a report in the Russian business daily Vedomosti.

Total has for a number of years worked with Gazprom to find a cost-effective way of exploiting the giant gas field in the Barents Sea.

Gazprom suspended the project in 2013 until new technology made it viable.

At 3.8 trillion cubic meters of gas, the Shtokman field is one of the world's largest untouched gas fields.

Bu developing it would require technology breakthroughs and huge investment, since it is buried underneath the Barents Sea above the Arctic Circle.

Vedomosti said the transfer of the stake was agreed at Russia's annual economic forum last week in Saint Petersburg, where Gazprom chief Alexei Miller met with Total's Patrick Pouyanne.

Based on reporting by AFP and Interfax