Italy's Eni and Russia's Rosneft announced on Wednesday a joint venture to search for oil and gas in the Russian Arctic, following a similar pact between ExxonMobil and the Russian state-run oil firm.

The pact gives Eni a minority 33.3 percent stake in the venture while shouldering the initial investment costs, according to Reuters. The two companies would also work together to develop oil and natural gas fields in the Black Sea.

Rosneft will also have access to Eni projects outside of Russia to gain knowledge it can bring back to domestic exploration efforts.

The areas slated for exploration, the Black Sea and Fedynsky and Barents fields, have an estimated 36 billion barrels of oil equivalent. The locations were chosen based upon past finds in Norway and Romania.

Russia's government, led by President-elect Vladimir Putin, has made expanding the nation's oil industry a top priority, recently eliminating export duties while introducing tax incentives for offshore oil production.