Russia’s state owned giant Gazprom has completed its move into the North Sea following an asset swap deal with Wintershall Holdings.

The world’s largest gas producer acquired 50% shares in Wintershall’s North Sea exploration and production company WINZ as part of a Master Agreement to exchange assets with the German firm.

The deal, signed initially by the two companies in November 2012 as binding Heads of Agreement, was approved by the European Commission on December 4.

In the same deal Gazprom gained full ownership of three oil and gas trading and storage companies supplying the majority of Europe: WINGAS, WIEH and WIEE.

“An increase of Gazprom’s presence in the wholesale market as well as a potential outreach to retail consumers considerably strengthen our positions not only in Germany but in other European countries, too,” said Alexey Miller, chairman of Gazprom.

“The deal with our German partners also gives us access to promising offshore projects in the North Sea. It is an excellent opportunity for the company’s growth.”

Wintershall – subsidiary of Germany’s chemical giant BANF – will in turn obtain a 25.01% interest in Gazprom’s Achimov project for development of blocks 4A and 5A in the Urengoyskoye field.

The Western Siberia prospect is estimated to hold 274billion cubic meters of natural gas and 74million tons of gas condensate and produce until 2039.

“The asset swap will allow us to focus on profitable growth at the source in our targeted oil and gas-rich regions,” said BASF chief executive, Kurt Bock.

“Through the joint development of additional blocks in the attractive Achimov formation, we will further expand our production of natural gas and condensate with our partner Gazprom.”