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The St. Petersburg Times: France Demands Total Support Over Oil License

Reuters
26 September 2006
 
PARIS — France hopes Russia will allow energy company Total to continue with its production sharing agreement in Western Siberia, Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said on Sunday.The Vremya Novostei newspaper on Friday quoted a source close to Russia’s Natural Resources Ministry as saying that it was only a matter of time before Total’s PSA (production sharing agreement) license for the Kharyaga project was withdrawn.

Asked whether France had received any guarantees, Douste-Blazy said: “To my knowledge no, but I really hope that the good relations between France and Russia translate very quickly into the possibility for Total to continue its whole program in Russia.”

He was speaking on LCI Television.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was in Paris on Friday to meet French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, played down fears over the report.

“I can assure you that the rumors about taking away the license (Total’s) are greatly exaggerated,” Putin said.

Total and Russia’s energy ministry have been at odds for years over how to develop the Kharyaga oil field in the Arctic.

Russia has sparked concern in Europe after a standoff with firms such as Royal Dutch Shell over rights to huge oil and gas projects in the remote Sakhalin region.

Moscow cut off gas supplies to Ukraine last winter in a move that underscored concerns that Russia, the world’s second biggest oil exporter and holder of the largest natural gas reserves, is starting to flex its economic muscle.

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