Russia, Vietnam Seal Energy Cooperation Deal

Will extend oil and gas exploration on Vietnam's continental shelf

Russia and Vietnam agreed to revive a Soviet-era energy cooperation deal on Sept. 11 as Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung prepared to meet President Vladimir Putin. Nguyen Tan Dung and Russian counterpart Mikhail Fradkov agreed to extend an agreement dating back to the final months of the Soviet Union in 1991 on cooperation through a joint venture called Vietsovpetro. The original agreement covers joint exploration and extraction of oil and gas on Vietnam's continental shelf and was set to run out in 2010. The deal has been extended and will include joint work in third countries, officials said.

"This joint venture will not be closed, but will continue working on a new legal basis in Vietnam, in Russia and in third countries," Nguyen Tan Dung was quoted by RIA-Novosti news agency as saying.

Russian influence is growing in Vietnam. The two countries have vowed increased energy cooperation and Russia is also among the contenders to help Vietnam develop nuclear power and exploit its rich mineral resources. But Russia's clout is still a shadow of Soviet-era levels. Bilateral trade worth $1.2 billion is dwarfed by Vietnam's $10 billion annual trade with the U.S.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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