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Given the tax incentives, major oil firms have been queueing up to establish stakes in Russia. This month, Russian energy giant Gazprom Neft signed an agreement with U.S. oil services firm Schlumberger to explore shale resources in western Siberia. As part of its technology-sharing agreement, Schlumberger is shipping equipment and drilling crews from shale drilling sites in the U.S. to Russia.

In January, a Russian venture between Gazprom Neft and Shell called Salym Petroleum Development announced plans to drill the first horizontal appraisal well in the Bazhenov formation near the southern town of Salym.

“We hope that the pilot project will allow us and our shareholders to make decision about moving to a large-scale development of Bazhenov formation in the Salym fields,” said Salym CEO Oleg Karpushin.

In December, Russia’s OAO Rosneft, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company that was at first skeptical about shale development, signed an agreement with Norwegian counterpart Statoil to explore the Domanik shale formation in the Samara region, near Russia’s southwestern border with Kazakhstan. The companies said the tax breaks provided a green light for the deal.

“If successful, we believe this could be a world-class shale oil asset,” said Statoil CEO Helge Lund.

Exxon Mobil, drawn to the Bazhenov because of the field’s similarity to the Bakken formation in the U.S., plans to start a $300 million drilling pilot project there with Rosneft this year.