Collage by the Barents Observer

The Nordsletten connection: Arctic oil, family affairs and a link to the FSB

Amid war and international sanctions, Norwegian businessman Gunnar Nordsletten continues to develop his corporate interests in Putin's Russia. According to a journalistic investigation, he is closely cooperating with Andrei Patrushev, a member of Russia's most powerful FSB family.
February 06, 2024


Gunnar Nordsletten is a man embraced by secrecy. Almost no information is available about him on the internet. And you probably won’t find a photo of him neither on Google nor Russian search engine Yandex.

He is skillfully hiding in shadows.

An open source image search reveals mainly photos of his father Øyvind Nordsletten, the Norwegian top diplomat, who served in Russia for more than a decade. And of Andrei Patrushev, the son of Russian national security chief Nikolai Patrushev.

“He continued millon-dollar business in Russia after the start of the war.” Journalists from the Stavanger Aftenblad are part of the investigation of Gunnar Nordsletten. Screenshot of article

An investigation conducted by the Dossier Center and Norwegian newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad (paywall) now concludes that Gunnar Nordsletten and his companies not only continue to work with the Russian oil and gas industry, but also actively assist Andrei Patrushev and his murky business interests.

Judging from the findings of the investigative team of journalists, vessels owned by Gunnar Nordsletten and his companies were instrumental in providing support to several of Andrei Patrushev’s Arctic energy projects.

At least two of the ships owned by Nordsletten’s Sevnor company are believed to have assisted the Marine Arctic Exploration Company (MAGE), a structure associated with Patrushev.



The Sayan Polaris is one of the ships that are part of the cooperation between Sevnor and the Marine Arctic Exploration Company (MAGE). Photo: government of Murmansk


Following Russia’s full-scale onslaught on Ukraine, Moscow’s Arctic energy industry was quickly targeted by the US and EU. Nordsletten’s support proved vital considering MAGE’s troubles with contracting advanced Western ships for its Arctic operations. Among the ships included in the deal with Patrushev were the Almaz and Kazanin Explorer, two vessels that repeatedly have taken part in Russian Arctic well drilling operations.

In September 2022, the Kazanin Explorer towed and supported semisubmersible rig Severnoye Siyanie in connection with exploration drilling at the Ledyanoye license area in the central part of the Barents Sea.


Andrei Patrushev is the son of Nikolai Patrushev, the former head of the FSB and currently Secretary of the Russian Security Council. Photo:


Andrei Patrushev has over the past years actively positioned himself in Russian Arctic oil and gas, and his company Gazprom Shelf Project today controls a key share of Russia’s main Arctic vessels and drilling rigs.


Drilling rig “Severnoye Siyanie” is today part of Andrei Patrushev’s Arctic business assets. Photo: Gazprom Flot


Following the start of Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine, Nordsletten reportedly re-organised his business, and claims to have sold his ships in late 2023.

Nordsletten himself has given only short comments to Stavanger Aftenblad. He claims that he has not violated international sanctions.

When the Barents Observer tried to get in contact with him, we were told that he was busy on travel and could not be reached.

Gunnar Nordsletten grew up in the family of one of Norway’s most respected diplomats. Øyvind Nordsletten served as ambassador to Moscow for eight years (2000-2008) and was later (2011-2013) also general consul in Murmansk.

Nordsletten Senior was a key participant in the building of relations with Moscow following the Cold War. In an interview with the Barents Observer made in early 2023, he describes how he together with then Foreign Minister Thorvald Stoltenberg successfully managed to establish the Barents Cooperation together with the Russians in the early 1990s.



For his efforts, Nordsletten was in 2011 awarded the Russian Order of Friendship.

In a comment to the Barents Observer, Øyvind Nordsletten firmly distances himself from his son’s business activities.

“I left Moscow in 2008 and have had nothing to do with my son’s business,”

he writes in an email.

He also stresses that he himself has had no contact whatsoever with the Patrushev family.

“Such a claim is a lie ,” he writes.

At the same time, he explains how he during his years in Russia cooperated with the Russian oil and gas industry.

“As an ambassador it is one of your most important tasks to promote Norwegian business interests. It is a work that that I always devoted my competence and engagement to. In Moscow in the period 2000-2008, it was my responsibility to facilitate contact and cooperation between Norwegian energy companies and Russian partners, first of all between Statoil/Hydro and Gazprom and Rosneft with the objective of participating in the Shtokman project.”

Gunnar Nordsletten studied at a business school in Oslo and reportedly quickly expressed an interest in working in Russia.

Anastasia Nordsletten is daughter of Josef Levinzon, the geologist and businessman closely associated with Leonid Mikhelson and Novatek. Photo: Facebook

He married Anastasia Levinzon, the daughter of powerful Russian oilman Josef Levinzon, and settled in Russia.

A neighbour of Nordsletten’s countryside cabin in Russia describes the Norwegian as a lover of birds and nature and as quiet family man with three kids and a lovely wife.

Through his relationship with the Levinzon family, Gunnar Nordsletten got a foot inside the Russian oil and gas industry, and first of all Novatek.

His father in law is described as a “legend” in the development of natural gas in the far northern Yamal-Nenets region. He held several high posts in the regional government and was reportedly instrumental for the establishment of Novatek in 1994.


In interview with Yamal TV Josef Levinzon says regional natural gas industry is up for hard times following the stop in pipeline exports to Europe. Screenshot of video


According to Forbes, critics claim that Levinzon during his tenure in the Yamal-Nenets government provided Mikhelson with hugely valuable licenses in the energy-rich region and consequently prepared the ground for the company’s success.

For several years, he was a board member of the company and in 2009 was appointed deputy board leader under company chief Mikhelson, newspaper Kommersant reported. He made big money and already in 2004 his fortune was estimated to $1,5 billion.


Leonid Mikhelson is co-owner and CEO of Novatek. Photo: Atle Staalesen


Gunnar Nordsletten’s development of the company Sevnor coincided in time with Novatek’s decision to build LNG plants in the far northern Yamal Peninsula. Sevnor Management and its subsidiary Sevnor Logistics owned vessels that could operate in the harsh Arctic environment.

The link to Stavanger, the Norwegian oil town, put Nordsletten in position to serve as useful middleman to the Russians. He is today believed to be well connected with powerful representatives of Russian business, as well as politics. And his business activities are unlikely to be only within Arctic shipping. Judging from the Panama Papers, Nordsletten is linked also with a real estate group with connections to the United Arab Emirates, British Virgin Islands. And Russia.  





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