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Russian energy firm Rosneft and Norway’s Statoil have agreed to establish a joint venture to assess the viability of shale oil production in Russia’s Samara region, the firms said Friday.

The Samara region is in the southeastern part of European Russia, at the confluence of the Volga and Samara Rivers on the east bank of the Volga.

Rosneft and Statoil said they will conduct a three-year pilot program to assess the potential for commercial production crude from the region’s shale.

Statoil will provide carry-based funding to perform the pilot survey program in 12 licence blocks, Statoil said.

Rosneft will hold 51 of the joint venture and Statoil will hold the rest.

“The pilot program will include data acquisition, and the drilling and hydraulic fracturing of pilot wells,” it said.