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Financial Times: Political victory of sorts for Imperial

Published: March 16 2008 18:20 | Last updated: March 16 2008 18:20

Imperial Energy, the FTSE 250 oil explorer, is set to announce a boost to its Russian reserves in a sign of easing political relations, writes Stanley Pignal.

The Russian ministry of natural resources has approved an extra 55m barrels of registered oil and gas reserves from the company’s South Maiskoye field in Siberia. The additional booked oil represents 16 per cent of Imperial’s 432m barrels reserves.

The move marks a political victory of sorts for Imperial after a period of strained relations with Russian authorities. Last April, Oleg Mitvol, the powerful head of Russia’s environmental watchdog, attacked the company for not meeting exploration obligations.

It was a similar attack by Mr Mitvol on Royal Dutch Shell that led the Anglo-Dutch group to sell part of its interest in the huge Sakhalin-II field to Gazprom.

The announcement comes five months after Imperial rejected an offer from the banking arm of Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy group, to take a 25 per cent stake. Imperial’s Siberia-focused operations trebled its oil reserves last year, to 372m barrels.

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