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Associated Press: Russia Firms to Run Offshore Fields

January 22, 2007 5:18 AM ET
 
MOSCOW (AP) – State-controlled energy giants OAO Gazprom and OAO Rosneft will divide up Russia’s oil and gas-rich seabed evenly, the financial newspaper Vedomosti reported Monday, a step that would leave foreign oil companies with a minority role at most.

While the move has not been officially backed by President Vladimir Putin, the paper said, it would be in step with the Kremlin’s policy of re-establishing state control over Russia’s vast reserves.

Citing a source familiar with the talks, Vedomosti reported that it had been agreed in principle at a government meeting on Jan. 16 that gas monopoly Gazprom and oil company Rosneft would divide the country’s offshore oil and gas fields evenly between them.

The meeting was chaired by Putin and attended by government ministers as well as executives with the companies, which are close to the Kremlin, the paper said.

Kremlin officials were not immediately available to confirm the report.

Last year Gazprom took over a majority stake in the Sakhalin-2 offshore liquefied natural gas development from Royal Dutch Shell PLC after persistent government pressure on the project.

Russian regulators charged that Shell’s contractors had violated environmental law, while government officials fumed at a cost increase that would massively delay the point at which the state received money from the project, under the terms of Shell’s original, favorable deal.

© 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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