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Russia Will Find New Partners If Western Oil Firms Leave Over Sanctions, Minister Says

Moscow will seek new partners in countries that have not imposed sanctions on it if Western oil and gas companies pull out of projects with Russia, news agency RIA Novosti quoted Energy Minister Alexander Novak as saying Saturday.

The sanctions over Russia's role in the Ukraine crisis have targeted the delivery of oil technology, goods and services, aiming to make it harder for Moscow to access new oil sources.

"If [Western] companies decide for themselves not to take part in organizing investment projects in the long term, we will invite investors from countries which have not imposed sanctions against us and our oil and gas companies," Novak was quoted as saying in response to a question at a meeting with students.

Russia, the world's biggest energy exporter, relies on oil and gas exports for about half its federal budget. The sanctions affect its offshore exploration in the Arctic and development of the hard-to-recover oil deposits.

U.S. oil major ExxonMobil has had to suspend work on offshore exploration in the Arctic with Russian oil producer Rosneft and Royal Dutch Shell has suspended development of hard-to-recover oil in Russia's Bazhenov formation with Gazprom Neft.

Rosneft has agreed to deepen cooperation with China National Petroleum Corporation, including in liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects and possibly LNG supplies to China.

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