Total Fina Elf has agreed to explore for oil offshore Russia in the Black Sea, their partner Rosneft has said, the second Russian project targeted this year as tensions in the Middle East delay projects there. Total, which is Europe's third-largest oil company, will evaluate the Tuapse deposit and several other projects, said Alexander Stepanenko, a spokesman for Russia's state owned oil company Rosneft. The French company also is in talks over a Siberian oil field that may cost two and a half billion dollars to develop. Total, which is facing delays in gas projects in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, is increasingly looking for opportunities in Russia, whose oil reserves are the world's seventh largest, analysts said. BP earlier this month agreed to spend $375 million to increase its stake in Russia's Sidanco oil group. “The appearance of Total's clear interest in Russia is a very positive development,” said Valery Nesterov, an analyst at Troika Dialog brokerage. “But the choice of its projects raises questions because they are very risky.”
The remarks from the Pope came as "a very strong step towards degradation," "given the rather massive nature of homosexuality" among the Catholic clergy.