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Thursday, February 28, 2008

RussNeft ex-head sets up oil company in Azerbaijan - paper

GutserievMOSCOW, February 26 (RIA Novosti) - Structures close to RussNeft ex-head Mikhail Gutseriyev, currently wanted in Russia, completed a deal to buy two oil operators in Azerbaijan from Canada's Nations Energy, a Russian daily said on Tuesday. Vremya Novostei said Gutseriyev's allies began preparing the deal back last spring. As a result, Britain's Global Energy controlled by Gutseriyev paid $340 million for an 85% stake in the Karasu Operating Company and 80% in the Kura Valley Operating Company. Sources close to Gutseriyev say quite possibly these oil assets will not be the last acquisitions by Global Energy in Azerbaijan, suggesting that Gutseriyev and his allies are setting up a new oil company, this time in the South Caucasus republic. RussNeft former CEO Gutseriyev resigned July 30, 2007 amid accusations of tax evasion and running an illegal business. The Interior Ministry issued an arrest warrant last year and applied to Interpol for him to be put on the international wanted list. He is believed to be living abroad according to the ministry's investigators. RussNeft, one of Russia's top ten crude producers with recoverable reserves of more than 630 million metric tons (4.6 billion barrels), faces substantial back-tax claims.

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