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Friday, February 27, 2009

Vekselberg outfit gets Italy nod

02-25-2009 - Upstream OnLine - A gas company belonging to Russian tycoon Viktor Vekselberg has been granted clearance from Italian authorities to build one of Europe's largest gas storages in Italy by 2011, the company, Avelar Energy, said today. Swiss-based Avelar, which forms part of Vekselberg's Renova holding, said in a statement it would invest €400 million ($512.5 million) to build the storage in the province of Matera in southern Italy. It will have capacity of 700 million cubic metres, gradually rising to 1 billion, a Reuters report said. Avelar said it had yet to clear the plan with local authorities after obtaining an accord from different Italian ministries. The project also includes pipeline modernisation and construction of a gas processing plant. Vekselberg, alongside fellow Russian partners, controls half of TNK-BP, with UK supermajor BP holding the other half. TNK-BP has ambitious gas production plans in Russia although most of them have been curbed by the country's gas export monopoly Gazprom . Gazprom supplies Italy with 22 Bcm of gas per year - a little over a quarter of the country's annual consumption - and wants to expand further by selling more gas to Eni and independent players. Gazprom has a number of gas storage facilities in Europe, but not in Italy.

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