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Monday, October 01, 2007

Moscow to ringfence Sakhalin 3

01 October 2007 - Upstream OnLine - Russia will auction off oil and gas blocks of the Sakhalin 3 project as strategic deposits, Resources Minister Yuri Trutnev said today, signalling that foreign access to the project will be limited. "Sakhalin 3 should be part of strategic (fields)," Reuters quoted him as telling a news conference. US supermajor ExxonMobil had long hoped to revive its involvement in Sakhalin 3 after Moscow cancelled the deal a few years ago, saying the company's agreement to develop the large block had been never finalised. The move came along with other steps by the government to increase Russian control in the strategic energy sector. Last year Russia's gas export monopoly Gazprom took over control in the neighbouring Sakhalin 2 project from Shell following months of pressure from the state ecological agency. Russia has yet to approve a law on strategic deposits, which has been delayed due to disagreements between key ministries. Trutnev has said that, despite disagreements, Russia is still planning to cap foreign involvement in fields with more than 70 million tonnes of oil and 50 billion cubic metres of gas reserves. Trutnev has also suggested that companies developing large fields should be required to build large refining complexes in a bid to spur economic development in regions where these fields are located. Today, Trutnev said the state might identify six deposits, for which special investment will be needed, but did not name them. He also said oil and gas firms were under-investing in exploration in East Siberia and the Far East and added he would present the government with a new programme this year, which would guarantee bigger reserves replacement.

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