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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Court rejects Moncrief's suit vs BASF over stake in Russian gas field

MOSCOW, May 31 (Prime-Tass)- Germany's Frankenthal district court on Thursday rejected U.S.-based Moncrief Oil International's lawsuit against German chemical company BASF and BASF subsidiary Wintershall over the ownership of Russia's Yuzhno-Russkoye gas field, Russia's natural gas monopoly Gazprom said. Gazprom holds the license to develop the field. Earlier on Thursday, Dow Jones Newswires reported, citing spokespeople for the court and for Moncrief, that the court was expected to decide on the lawsuit on July 5. It was not clear why the decision was made on Thursday. Moncrief has argued that BASF' preliminary accord last year to buy a 35% stake in the field from Gazprom was illegal because it interfered with the U.S. company's right to a stake in the Yuzhno-Russkoye field. Moncrief was seeking U.S. $8 billion in damages. Moncrief concluded an agreement to buy 20% in the field from Gazprom in 1997 and in 1999 agreed to instead acquire a 40% interest. Neither of the agreements has been fulfilled. Previously Moncrief also filed a lawsuit against Gazprom over the stake in the U.S. Last year and earlier this year two U.S. courts rejected the lawsuit, saying that they had no jurisdiction over the issue. Meanwhile, German energy company E.ON also concluded a preliminary agreement last year to buy 25% minus one share in the Yuzhno-Russkoye field. The Yuzhno-Russkoye deposit, located in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, has gas reserves of 700 billion cubic meters. It is expected to be a key source of gas for the North European gas pipeline, linking Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea, which is planned to be launched in 2010. Gazprom holds 51% in the pipeline, while E.ON and BASF hold 24.5% each.

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