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Financial Times: URALS ENERGY PUTS INVESTORS’ MINDS AT REST OVER SHELL’S RUSSIAN OIL SPAT

By John Murray Brown

Published: September 7 2006 03:00 | Last updated: September 7 2006 03:00

Urals Energy, an Aim-listed company with interests on Sakhalin Island, in the Russia’s far east, dismissed investors’ concerns that it could be affected by moves to block the $20bn (£10.6bn) Royal Dutch Shell project, writes John Murray Brown.

A Russian court this week was asked by regulators to suspend work on the Shell project because of alleged violations of environmental rules.

Bill Thomas, Urals chief executive, said: “That has nothing to do with us. It is like talking about the Moon when you mean Neptune. The only reason Shell is having trouble is Gazprom [the Russian natural gas company] wants back in on the project. We are 1,500 miles south of there.”

Urals Energy, one of the best performing new arrivals on Aim in the last few months, achieved a 189 per cent increase in revenues in the six months to June 30, up from $27m to $78m. Operating profit rose 42 per cent from $3.4m to $4.8m. The company turned pre-tax losses of $46,000 into a pre-tax profit of $5.61m this time. Earnings per share were 4 cents (losses of 2 cents). There was no dividend.

The company, which has a former son-in-law of Boris Yeltsin, the former Russian president, on its board, has made eight acquisitions since its IPO. It paid $148m for NK Dulisma, raising $209m in May to fund the deal.

It is buying a company called Voivosh from Lukoil, which it expects to close this month. Mr Thomas has 25 years’ experience in the oil industry. In 2003, he sold another Russian company he ran to Lukoil for $365m.

He predicted Urals would be producing 13,000 bod by the end of 2007. Shares in Urals fell 10p to 444p yesterday.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2006

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