France interested in Shtokman development - ambassador to Russia

France intends to expand its presence in the Russian energy sector, particularly by making further investments in the development of the Shtokman gas field.

"In the future, there will be a project to develop the Shtokman gas field on the Arctic shelf, which provides enormous opportunities for investment, and, of course, we are really anticipating it," French Ambassador to Russia Jean de Gliniasty told Interfax in an interview.

"We would like for the development of the Shtokman project to begin, as it would allow France to increase its presence," he said.

France plans to boost its presence in the Russian fuel and energy sector by raising Total's stake in field development on the Yamal Peninsula, de Gliniasty said.

"Total has signed an agreement with NOVATEK that allows it to increase gas production in Yamal. Later Total will receive a 20 percent in NOVATEK. This operation has already practically been completed," the ambassador said.

In de Gliniasty's opinion, "increasing production in Yamal is a very profitable project."

In addition, French energy companies EDF and Gas De France - Suez are already actively participating in the development of South Stream and Nord Stream, he said.

On the whole, there is a positive trend in the development of Russian-French relations in terms of the economy and energy, de Gliniasty said, stressing that this tendency could be even further improved.

Besides energy, interaction between Russia and France "is being carried out in the spheres of the automotive industry, insurance and retail trade," the ambassador said.

"France is Russia's eighth largest partner in terms of trade turnover, but we have something to work on, since France is the fifth strongest economy in the world," de Gliniasty said.

In the first two quarters of 2012, France substantially ramped up exports to Russia. "We're talking about exports of products in such an indicative area as high technology, which demonstrates the quality of commodity exchanges between Russia and France," he said.

De Gliniasty does not share the view that there is a shortage of French investors in Russia. He said that there is "not one area in which France has not had a presence as an investor."

"As a serious industrial investor, France is third in terms of investments in Russia," he said. "There are very few countries in the world in which we have had such figures in the area of investment," de Gliniasty said.

The ambassador noted that "it is necessary to improve interaction in the trade sphere, but we are on the right track, and in the investment sphere we serve as not such a bad example."

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