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Friday, April 24, 2009

Rosneft triumphs in Russneft battle

04-24-2009 - Upstream OnLine - The Moscow Arbitration court ruled in favour of state-run producer Rosneft in a 5 billion rouble claim (US$148 million) against rival Russneft, over the latter's purchase of a former Yukos unit. "There was a ruling to satisfy the plaintiff's claim of five billion roubles against Russneft," Reuters quoted a court spokesman as saying. A Rosneft spokesman said the company was satisfied with the ruling. Russneft bought the disputed Zapadno-Malobalykskoye (ZMB) production unit from Yukos just before the latter was bankrupted for tax debts and its production units sold off. Another former Yukos unit Samaraneftegaz, now owned by Rosneft, filed a 5 billion rouble claim in court, demanding the court award it a stake in ZMB. Samaraneftegaz said in its claim that Yukos assets were frozen at the time it sold ZMB and the sale was illegal. ZMB produces over a fifth of Russneft's output of 14 million tonnes per annum. The other half of the disputed production unit is owned by Hungarian player MOL, in which Rosneft rival Surgutneftegaz recently bought 21%. MOL is also suing Russneft. A source familiar with MOL's claim told Reuters earlier that MOL is demanding 5 billion roubles' compensation for oil sold by ZMB. Indebted billionaire Oleg Deripaska acquired Russneft from its founder Mikhail Gutseriyev, who was also charged with tax evasion and fled to London after his son died after a car crash. The deal has not closed because Russia's anti-trust agency has not approved it. Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of the gas giant, was in talks to acquire Russneft but the talks were suspended over price, sources familiar with the talks said.

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