Russian state-controlled oil company Zarubezhneft and Curacao-based Itera have entered a production sharing agreement with Turkmenistan to explore the country’s section of the Caspian Sea for oil and natural gas.

Under the agreement, the companies will jointly develop the 21st block of Turkmenistan’s offshore sector.

Zarubezhneft will serve as the project operator and undertake oil production work on behalf of the contracting companies.

Initial estimates put block 21’s recoverable oil resources at 219 million tonnes, associated gas at 92 billion cubic metres and natural gas at 100 billion cubic metres.

The companies will invest $6bn in the project, according to

Zarubezhneft will hold a 51% stake in the project and Itera will hold 49% under an agreement signed between Itera and Turkmenistan’s presidential state agency in 2009.