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Financial Times: ONES TO WATCH

Published: January 4 2007 02:00 | Last updated: January 4 2007 02:00

*Sibir Energy

Amid growing hostility from the Kremlin towards the the international super-majors active in Russia, Aim’s largest independent exploration and production company offers investors an alternative way of gaining exposure to the country’s oil wealth.

Henry Cameron, chief executive, is a lawyer with years of experience in Russia and took control of Pentex Oil, the precursor to Sibir, in the late 1980s.

He appears to have learned his lessons since losing control of Sibir’s last big asset – the South Proiobskoe field in western Siberia – to Roman Abramovich, who has since sold his Sibneft oil company to Gazprom, the Russian energy giant. Sibir is still fighting that case through the courts.

Since that debacle, two well-connected local businessmen – Chalva Tchigirinski and Igor Kesaev – now control 55 per cent of Sibir, which gives the company strong credentials in Russia.

Its new jewel in the crown is its Salym joint venture with Shell where production is ramping up. The company has also dropped heavy hints it will be buying more acreage in Russia. It has downstream exposure with a large position in the Moscow petrol station market

*Serica Energy

An exploration company with a high-quality management team led by chairman Tony Craven Walker, who has an eye for the right exit as he proved at Charterhouse Petroleum and Monument Oil & Gas in the 1990s. With 35 years experience in the sector, Paul Ellis, chief executive, only lags behind his chairman by four years. The company is targeting low-risk drilling in the UK North Sea – it announced a discovery just before Christmas – and high-impact wells off Indonesia

*Ithaca Energy

Another well-regarded management team led by chief executive Lawrence Payne, who has more than 40 years of experience in the industry. He has spent a considerable amount of time in the UK North Sea – the company’s sole focus. This makes it considerably lower risk than its peers. Typical of its approach is the Athena field, which remained undeveloped after its discovery in the 1990s because it was deemed uneconomic at the time

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007

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