Russian gas company Gazprom will decide on its new partners for its Shtokman gas project by mid-October, according to company executives.

While Gazprom deputy chairman Valery Golubev said that there were five possible bidders, Yuri Komarov, head of the Shtokman licence holder, Sevmorneftegas, maintained that negotiations were on only with Norway’s Statoil, Norsk Hydro and US-based ConocoPhillips.

Reuters quotes Mr Golubev as saying: We can expand the list of partners by selling 24% in the project’s managing company to a partner which has experience of working in hard climate conditions and has relevant technologies. I think the decision will be taken in September, mid-October at the latest.

Mr Golubev added that the project was expected to start pumping 23-24 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year in 2013, while liquefied natural gas deliveries to European and US markets are to start in 2014.

Instead of giving equity partnerships to foreign firms in the Shtokman project, Gazprom opted to give them stakes in the managing company. Accordingly, it struck a deal with Total, which will get a 25% stake in the managing company.