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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Vekselberg targets Italian alternatives

14 March 2007 - Upstream OnLine - Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, who is part-owner of producer TNK-BP, has unveiled plans to invest $1 billion in Italy to develop alternative energy sources, adding that production could eventually be exported to other parts of Europe. "$1 billion over a period of five years," he said in response to a question posed during an interview published today in Italian newspaper La Stampa. "The main direction of our activity concerns the development of alternative energy and renewable resources - from solar energy to wind turbines to biomass," he said. Speaking during Russian President Vladimir Putin's official visit to Italy, Vekselberg said his goal was to produce 1000 megawatts of electricity. "We plan to produce "clean" energy in Italy in order to be able to later export it to northern Europe," Reuters quoted him as telling La Stampa. Despite his emphasis on energy, Vekselberg also said he would be interested in making investments in other sectors. Putin and Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi are to sign a series of protocols on banking, energy, aircraft construction and culture.

Imperial stakes claim at Maiskoye

Imperial Energy logo13 March 2007 - Upstream OnLine - Imperial Energy unit Allianceneftegaz has won a 20-year exploration and production licence for Block 70, which holds the Maiskoye field, in Western Siberia. Russia's Ministry of Natural Resources granted the new exploration licence on 28 February, Imperial said. The new deal supercedes a previous five-year agreement, which was purely for exploration. Imperial said it is planning extensive development work at Maiskoye this year, including a drilling programme of nine new wells at already identified oil bearing intervals in the field. It is in the process of building field facilites worth about $15 million, which will be able to handle 10,000 barrels of oil per day by the end of the year, rising to 17,000 bpd by 2009. Imperial added that Maiskoye will be linked to its southern pipeline in the Tomsk region, which is still being built, with first deliveries from the field through the pipeline due by the end of the second quarter.

Red faces as Enel slips up in Russia

13 March 2007 - Upstream OnLine - Italian energy player Enel slipped up today in an advertisement published in Russia's official government gazette, saying it planned to bid for the assets of Russian gas giant Gazprom, instead of those belonging to bankrupt oil producer Yukos. Enel made the mistake in a full-page advert flagging up its plans to invest up to €4 billion ($5.27 billion) in Russia. "Together with Italian oil group Eni and our Moscow partner ESN, Enel will also take part in auctions for the right to buy some of the companies of Gazprom, such as Arcticgas and Urengoil, which control large methane deposits," Enel said in the advert published in Rossiiskaya Gazeta. A spokesman for PBN, which handles Enel's public relations in Russia, declined to comment on the error, Reuters said. Yukos' assets will be sold off from from this month as part of the bankruptcy procedure. ArcticGas and Urengoil will be sold along with Yukos' 20% stake in Gazprom's oil unit, Gazprom Neft, on 4 April. The starting price is set at $5.54 billion and Gazprom is widely seen as the most logical contender and buyer of the assets, but it has yet to win them.

Lukoil 'in $1bn cash hunt'

12 March 2007 – Upstream OnLine - Russia's top oil producer Lukoil wants to raise over $1 billion in three syndicated loans, a banking source claimed today. "They want three loans including two mid-sized and one big for a total of over $1 billion," the source told Reuters. "One loan for about $250 million is meant to refinance an earlier borrowing". He added Lukoil would seek a maturity of over five years for the biggest loan.

Creditors line up more Yukos auctions

12 March 2007 - Upstream OnLine - Yukos creditors may announce more auctions to sell assets of bankrupt Russian oil giant Yukos as early as this week, the office of Yukos receiver Eduard Rebgun said today. "Yukos's creditors' committee discussed the composition of lots for other auctions at a meeting today. The results will be published in the official media shortly," Nikolai Lashkevich, Rebgun's spokesman told Reuters. "Presumably it could be on Saturday, when (Russian government gazette) Rossiiskaya Gazeta has a bankruptcy section, but it also may be published any other day this week," he said. The committee, led by tax officials and state-controlled oil company Rosneft, earlier announced the first two auctions to sell off the assets of Yukos, once Russia's largest oil company, to recover more than $26 billion in back taxes. The first auction on 27 March will dispose of Yukos's 9.4% stake in Rosneft, which already owns the bankrupt company's former main production unit, Yugansk. The state-controlled company is widely expected to buy the stake. Yukos's other equity asset, a 20% stake in Gazpromneft, the oil arm of gas monopoly Gazprom, will go under the hammer on 4 April, together with Yukos's northern gas production unit ArcticGaz and 20 other assets. The remainder of Yukos includes five major refineries and over 400,000 barrels per day of oil production. Gazprom and Rosneft are seen as the likely buyers of those assets as well. Yukos's receiver has valued the company's assets at $25.6 billion to 26.8 billion and said most would be sold by August 2007. Yukos's owners have called the auction a farce and said tax claims against the company were part of the Kremlin's revenge for the political ambitions of its main owner Mikhail Khodorkovsky, now serving an eight-year jail term in Siberia for fraud and tax evasion.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Imperial Energy Increased Its Russia's Resources by 150%

Imperial Energy logo06.03.2007 - [] - UK oil & gas explorer Imperial Energy Corporation Plc said on Tuesday that according to an independent audit, its reserves in Russia increased by 150 percent. “We have major reserves with further significant upside arising from Imperial’s continued exploration program ... We must now keep focused on producing these reserves,” Chairman Peter Levine was quoted by Reuters as saying in a statement on Tuesday. Earlier The Times reported that the company is sitting on reserves of more than 3 billion barrels in Russia.

Battle for YUKOS property

RBC News 03-05-2007 -
Has broken out between Rosneft and tax officials
With only a few days left before the YUKOS auction, the bankrupt firm’s creditors cannot agree on their valuation, RBC Daily has learnt. A source close to YUKOS’s bankruptcy manager said tax officials want to earn as much as possible from the YUKOS auction, while oil company Rosneft is lobbying for YUKOS’s most interesting assets to be sold at a discount. The committee of YUKOS’s creditors has seven members, including four representatives of the Federal Tax Service, two representatives of Rosneft and one representative of YUKOS’s subsidiary Samaraneftegaz. On 1 August 2006 YUKOS was declared bankrupt by the Moscow Arbitration Court, which put the company into bankruptcy administration for one year. YUKOS’s total debt tops RUR 709 billion (approx. $27bn at the current exchange rate). The largest creditors are the Federal Tax Service (RUR 429 billion, approx. $16.3bn), Rosneft (RUR 590.7 billion, approx. $22.5bn), Tomskneft (RUR 12.3 billion, approx. $468.75m) and Samaraneftegaz ($1.85 billion, approx. $70.5m). A source familiar with the situation said the tax service’s position in the Kremlin strengthened after its head Anatoly Serdyukov was appointed Defense Minister in a Cabinet reshuffle last month. The bankrupt oil firm will be unable to pay all tax and other debts claimed from it, the source said. In view of this, the company’s No. 1 creditor, the Federal Tax Service, received instructions to get as much as possible from the YUKOS auctions. Indeed, this is in the best interests of the tax service, which claims the largest amount of fines and penalties from YUKOS, agrees Oleg Bazhenov, at Vegas Lex law firm. “Debts are to be paid first, fines and penalties are next in line. That’s why the Federal Tax Service will have to wait until the end of the auction, while Rosneft will get its money earlier, after its stake in YUKOS is sold,” the expert said. On the contrary, Rosneft will try to lower the starting price, acting both through the Kremlin and YUKOS’s bankruptcy manager Eduard Rebgun. Rosneft President Sergei Bogdanchikov said earlier that his company would only bid for YUKOS property if the price is not too high. Rosneft has nominated two candidates for the Rosneft Board of Directors. According to unconfirmed reports, one of them is Eduard Rebgun. Rosneft could approve them as independent directors hoping for loyalty and support from YUKOS. In an interview on Vesti-24 Rebgun estimated YUKOS’s assets at about $27 billion, approximately as much as the company owns. But he said a liquidation discount could be applied to the company’s assets. The discount will vary for each asset, but it cannot rise above 30 percent. At this point it is known that a significant discount will be applied to the first lot of the YUKOS auction - a 9.44 percent stake in Rosneft to be sold on 27 March. The starting price has been set at RUR 195.5 billion (approx. $7.45bn), approximately 22% below its current market value. And Gazprom Neft’s shares were priced at their market value. Together with gas and some non-core assets, they will form the second lot, priced at about $5.5 billion. Rebgun said he was unaware of relations among YUKOS’s creditors. “They don’t inform me about their gatherings. I only present them with the results of the valuation carried out by appraisers. The creditors are free to change these results as they think proper,” he stressed. Rebgun said he did not know whether the discount would be applied to refining and production assets, which are most interesting to Rosneft. “Their starting price will soon be approved by the committee of creditors,” he said, adding that the creditors voted unanimously at their last meeting to approve the formation of the lots, including for YUKOS’s gas assets. According to sources familiar with the valuation results, Samaraneftegaz was valued at over $8 billion, and Tomsknet was priced higher, at $9.5 billion. Another YUKOS’s subsidiary, the East Siberian Oil and Gas Company, was estimated much cheaper, at just $47 million, due to its problems with oilfield licenses. But the starting prices could be changed significantly by the creditors. Artem Konchin, at ATON, thinks Rosneft will get the biggest discount for oil refining assets. “Without oil delivery contracts, refineries are inexpensive. Being the biggest oil supplier for them, Rosneft can hope for a discount,” he said. Konstantin Cherepanov, at Rye, Man & Gor Securities, says Rosneft has a good chance to buy YUKOS’s oil refineries and some of its production assets, including the East Siberian Oil and Gas Company and Samaraneftegaz, while Gazprom will bid for Tomskneft, for its oil arm Gazprom Neft.

ConocoPhillips eyeing Shtokman project

RBC, 06.03.2007, Moscow 18:59:50. – American company ConocoPhillips has confirmed today its willingness to continue talks with Gazprom on participation in the Shtokman project in light of the new cooperation conditions. The Russian company's press office made this announcement today following a meeting of Gazprom's Chairman Alexei Miller and ConocoPhillip's Jim Malva. The American company plans to make a proposal to Gazprom on the project. According to the company's statement, the meeting was part of a new round of talks with the companies, which could potentially work on the first stage of the Shtokman project construction.

TNK-BP proven oil reserves hit 7.8 bln BOE

MOSCOW, March 6 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian-British joint venture TNK-BP said Tuesday its proven oil reserves as of December 31, 2006 stood at 7.81 billion barrels of oil equivalent (BOE). The figures are based on an independent audit conducted by the international firm DeGolyer & MacNaughton using criteria stipulated by the standards set by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on a life-of-field basis. The audit represents the fourth independent survey of the company's reserves since its creation in August 2003. Based on SEC criteria, TNK-BP replaced 129% of 2005 production with new proven reserves.

LUKoil proven reserves hit 20.7 bln BOE as of Jan., up 4% y-on-y

MOSCOW, March 5 (RIA Novosti) -- Russia's largest crude producer LUKoil [RTS: LKOH] said Monday its proven hydrocarbon reserves amounted to 20.36 billion barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) as of January 1, 2007, a rise of 4% year-on-year. This includes 15.93 billion barrels of oil and 26.6 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, the company press service said. As of January 1, 2006, LUKoil's reserves stood at 20.33 billion BOE. Last month the company said it produced 89.5 million tons of crude in Russia and 5.7 million tons abroad last year. LUKoil is currently developing 26 projects in 13 countries. LUKoil also said it plans to invest $27 billion by 2017 in oil and gas production and new acquisitions abroad.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

'Shtokman needs foreign technology'

02 March 2007 - Upstream onLine - The governor of Russia's northern Murmansk region said today that the country lacked the technology to develop the Shtokman gas field in the Barents Sea, and would need help "from its neighbours". Yuri Yevdokimov told the Rossiiskaya Gazeta that the project faced major obstacles, including its distance from shore and the challenges posed by drifting Arctic Ocean ice, the website reported. The Shtokman field is located about 600 kilometres off Russia's northern coast. Yevdokimov said the initial costs of the field would be about $70 billion.

Russians eye Belgian gas springboard

02 March 2007 - Upstream onLine - Russia and Belgium have discussed increasing co-operation in the natural gas sector and may jointly build a big gas storage facility in Belgium, Russian President Vladimir Putin said today. "We may carry out a very big and useful... project - building a gas depository that would be quite big even for Europe, with an option to transport gas to third countries, including Great Britain," Russian television showed Putin saying at a meeting with Belgium's Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt. Verhofstadt, in Moscow on a one-day visit, also discussed the issue with Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom's chief executive, Alexei Miller. Gazprom said in a statement that the depository may be built in the Belgian town of Puderly, but gave no other details of the project. Puderly is near Belgium's energy hub of Antwerp. Verhofstadt also discussed Russia's supplies of gas to Belgium and its transit to other countries. Gazprom, which covers a quarter of Europe's gas needs, provided 300 million cubic metres of the fuel to Belgium last year. The company is also building a gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea to Germany's northern coast, set to be a major artery for European energy imports from 2010. The Nord Stream pipeline will begin by pumping up to 27.5 billion cubic metres of gas a year. This capacity will double when a second pipe is added later.

BP supremos on Moscow mission

27 February 2007 - Upstream online - Outgoing BP chief executive John Browne and his designated successor, E&P head Tony Hayward, are due in Moscow for two days of talks with Russian business and government leaders. Browne and Hayward are likely to meet Rosneft president Sergei Bogdanchikov, the Moscow Times reported. The paper also reported the Prime-Tass news agency as saying the pair would meet Gazprom officials as well. The visit comes amid growing pressure on TNK-BP, BP's Russian joint venture, to cede a share in its flagship Kovykta project to pipeline monopoly Gazprom. Meanwhile, a TNK-BP spokeswoman told the newspaper that Gazprom had cut the amount of gas it would allow the joint venture to ship through its pipelines from the Achimov gas field in west Siberia from 2.5 billion cubic metres to 1.7bcm.

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