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Norway, Russia close to strategic partnership - minister

MOSCOW, February 16 (RIA Novosti) - The Norwegian foreign minister said Thursday that the Scandinavian country and Russia were close to forming a strategic partnership.

Jonas Gahr Stoere said the partnership would provide for the participation of Norwegian oil and gas companies in Russian shelf projects like the Shtokman gas condensate field, which the minister said he had discussed with Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Stoere said Stockholm and Moscow had talked about the possible role Norwegian companies could play in the project.

Norwegian energy groups Statoil and Norsk Hydro are on a shortlist of five Western companies - alongside the U.S. giants Chevron and ConocoPhillips and France's Total - to join Russian natural gas monopoly Gazprom in developing the vast Shtokman gas field off the Arctic coast.

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