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Friday, December 07, 2007

Government Takes over Gas Deposits

Dec. 04, 2007 - Kommersant - Russian authorities have taken direct control of the 31 largest natural gas deposits remaining in the undistributed fund by declaring them objects of federal significance, as having strategic importance for Russia's gas supply. That means that a license to develop one of them can be granted only an order of the government. They can be distributed beginning in 2009, when the government will have the right to do so without holding an auction or competition. Gazprom is the leading contender for them. The deposits include five in Yakutia, the largest of which is the Chayandinsko deposit with 1.3 trillion cu. m. of gas; 18 in the Yamal Nenets Autonomous Area, the largest of which are the Kruzenshternskoe deposit with 1.675 trillion cu. m., the Malyginskoe with 745.1 billion cu. m. and the Severo-Tambaiskoe with 929.1 billion cu. m.; and nine on the Barents, Karsk and Okhotsk Sea shelves. Three smaller deposits on a list drawn up by the Ministry of Natural Resources in February for designation as strategic do not appear on the list approved by Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov. Those are the Deryabinskoe deposit, with 50.6 billion cu. m.; the Vaneivisskoe with 85 billion cu. m.; and the Kumzhinskoe, with 94.2 billion cu. m. Under legislation, the government can grant the right to use deposits of federal significance without competition to organizations that explore them themselves, to the owner of the unified gas system (i.e., Gazprom) or to the owner of regional networks. The regional networks are Norilskgazprom, Sakhatransneftegaz, Daltransgaz, Rosneft and Sakhalin Energy, which Gazprom owns 51 percent of. The new status of the deposits will prevent them from falling into the hands of foreign investors. Analysts say that Gazprom and NOVATEK will be the main contenders for the deposits. Gazprom is not likely to receive all of them, however, since even its investment funds would be insufficient to develop that number of deposits at the pace the government is likely to desire to guarantee a stable income from them.

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