The companies said that the agreement sets out the basic principles of strategic co-operation and lays the foundation for a long-term co-operation between Shell and Rosneft both in Russia and elsewhere.

Although no specific collaborations were outlined in the joint press release, Forbes has reported a Shell spokeswoman as saying that the scope of the alliances could involve both production and refining activities in oil and gas.

Shell’s chief executive, Jeroen van der Veer, said: Russia is a strategic growth area for Shell and we are committed to developing our business in cooperation with Russian companies across the entire range of the energy business.

Shell with its global experience of applying technologies in an integrated way will complement Rosneft’s strengths and experience on the Russian market. We look forward to successful cooperation with Rosneft, one of the leaders of Russian oil and gas sector, Mr van der Veer continued.

Rosneft president Sergey Bogdanchikov added: The agreement reached today will allow our companies to seriously widen the scope and geography of our work. There is no doubt that cooperation between Rosneft and Shell will be beneficial not only from commercial perspective – it is equally important to share experience and technologies.

Media reports are speculating that Shell has been eager to develop additional alliances in Russia after it was forced to sell its lead of the Sakhalin-2 project to Russia’s gas monopoly Gazprom in April 2007 over environmental concerns.

However, according to Forbes, the industry is assuming that the deal with Rosneft will have been established on relatively poor grounds for Shell.