A consortium led by ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell has been granted permission by the Ukrainian Government to explore the Skifska field, located in the Black Sea.

The consortium also includes Romania’s OMV Petrom and Ukrainian state-owned Nadra Ukrainy.

Eduard Stavitsky, environment and natural resources minister, told reporters: "The government has supported a proposal … to sign a production sharing agreement naming a group of companies, led by ExxonMobil as operator, the winner (of the tender)."

The Skifska field has 200 to 250 billion cubic metres of gas reserves and it is expected to produce five billion cubic metres a year.

In June 2012, Ukraine invited bids from potential partners for two fields in the Black Sea shelf, which include Skifska and Foroska.

Russian oil producer Lukoil Holdings also had placed a bid for the exploration permit over Skifska field along with the consortium led by ExxonMobil, reports Reuters.

The tender is considered to be a strategic move by Kiev’s government to bring down energy imports from Russia.

Ukraine imports about two-thirds of its gas from Russia at a price that has been rising for the last few years. The country hopes to gain independence from its neighbour.

Image: ExxonMobil Research and Development Headquarters in Shanghai. Photo courtesy of: Kokokhatcha.