Russia, Vietnam mull Vietros liquidation

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Issues concerning the liquidation of the Vietros Petroleum joint venture, which was set up to build an oil refinery in Vietnam, will be considered in late December at a regular session of the Russian-Vietnamese Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko said. According to the deputy premier, the meeting will be held in Vietnam. Khristenko reported that the possibility of liquidating Vietros had been raised by the Vietnamese pa...


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Rosneft to drill 2 wells in Caspian Sea

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Rosneft President Sergei Bogdanchikov and Kazakh Prime Minister Imangali Tasmagambetov discussed potential for the development of oil and gas fields in the Caspian Sea at a meeting, the Kazakh government said in a press release. The president of the Russian oil company noted during the meeting that in 2003 it is planned to drill two wells at the Kurmangazy field in the Caspian. A business plan for this project has already been drawn up. As part of its implementation, the Kazakh Energy and Minera...


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Sibneft ups crude output by 27.6%

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Russian oil major Sibneft produced 21.42 million tonnes of crude in the first 10 months of 2002, up 27.6 percent year-on-year. Output totalled 2.438 million tonnes in October, up from 1.899 million tonnes the previous year. Exports reached 8.72 million tonnes in January-October 2002, up 45.5 percent year-on-year....


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70% growth potential in Sakhalin-1 investment

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Investment in the Sakhalin-1 project in 2003 is planned at USD 1.2 billion, which is 70 percent higher than the planned level in 2002, ExxonMobil Vice President Larry Smith told a press conference in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. He said that a meeting of the authorised state body for the Sakhalin-1 project would be held in the first half of December, at which a budget for next year will be confirmed.
Smith also said that ExxonMobil proposes to start drilling a directional well at the Chaivo field in the ...


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Shkolnik: CPC activity should be regulated

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The activity of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC, which operates a pipeline from the Tengiz field in western Kazakhstan to the Russian port of Novorossiisk) should be regulated by the agreement on the setting up of this consortium, Kazakh Energy and Natural Resource Minister Vladimir Shkolnik told a press conference.
"Everything concerning the CPC should be resolved in accordance with the agreement on the consortium (between shareholders)," the minister noted, in response to a question on t...


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SOCAR considers Gazprom proposal

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Russian gas monopoly offers to supply 1 bcm of gas in 2003
Azeri state oil company SOCAR is considering a proposal from Russia's Gazprom on the supply of one billion cubic metres of gas in 2003. Interfax quoted SOCAR President Natik Aliyev as telling journalists that this issue was discussed during a visit by a Gazexport delegation to Baku, headed by the company's Director General Alexander Medvedyev.
At the moment only Itera is supplying gas to Azerbaijan and, under an agreement signed with S...


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Chechnya fields yield over 1 mln tn of oil

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A total of 1.041 million tonnes of oil have been extracted from oilfields in Chechnya since the start of 2002. "In addition, Chechen oil workers have extracted over 60 million cubic metres of natural gas and 112 million cubic metres of associated gas," said the press secretary of the Grozneftegaz oil and gas company, Namrudi Kharachoyev. The company expects profits from the sale of hydrocarbons extracted in Chechen territory to reach nearly two billion rubles, he said. "To be more precise, we ex...


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LG to invest in Tatarstan

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South Korean company LG will be investing USD 50-USD 70 million or more in petrochemicals giant Nizhnekamskneftekhim (Tatarstan), Nizhnekamskneftekhim Director General Vladimir Busygin said during a working visit to the Khanty-Mansiisk autonomous district. Interfax quoted Busygin as saying the company has signed a protocol of intent, offered specific proposals and set up a working group. The exact amount of investment remains to be seen, he said. "LG and we are looking over the question of build...


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Gazprom to raise output…

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Russian gas monopoly Gazprom plans to produce 521 billion cubic metres of gas in 2002, 1.8 percent more than the 512 billion cubic metres it achieved in 2001. The Russian gas giant plans to sustain output of at least 530 billion cubic metres in 2003-2011, Pyotr Bakayev, the Gazprom securities chief, said at a presentation of the company's bonds in St Petersburg. "At current levels of extraction, we have enough reserves to last 50 years," Bakayev said. He forecast that supplies to Western and Eas...


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…signs memorandum with Pakistan

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Gazprom and the Pakistani Oil and Natural Resources Ministry have signed in Islamabad a memorandum on working together to build a gas pipeline running from Iran to India over Pakistani soil. Gazprom said that at issue is running pipeline along the shelf. The memorandum also envisions cooperation in the field of prospecting for hydrocarbon resources in Pakistan and Russian specialists being involved in a programme for changing vehicular transport in the country over to the use of liquefied gas. G...


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Delta Hess to dump Salyan Oil shares

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Delta Hess, a joint Saudi-US company, plans to sell its 20 percent stake in Salyan Oil Ltd., (SOL), which develops the Kursangi and Karabagli oilfields. China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) will probably acquire the stake, Dobycha nefti i gaza na sushe, a structure of Azeri state oil company SOCAR. SOL will make a decision on the sale at a board meeting in mid-December....


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75% Slavneft stake to be sold on December 18

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A 74.95 percent stake in oil company Slavneft will be sold at auction on December 18, Russian Federal Property Fund Chairman Vladimir Malin told a press conference. The starting price for the shares has been set at USD 1.7 billion. Bids will be accepted from November 16 to December 15. The deadline for price proposals is December 17 and the results of the auction will be announced on December 18.
Successive bids must be increased by USD 20 million, Malin noted. The auction is open in terms of t...


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LUKoil backs out of Azeri- Chirag-Guneshli project

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Russian oil major LUKoil is selling its share in the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli project in the Azeri sector of the Caspian Sea to a large Japanese company for more than USD 1.25 billion. LUKoil said the two companies had signed a list of principal terms for the bargain which are not compulsory. LUKoil holds a 10 percent stake in the project, which is based on a production sharing agreement, an 11.11 percent stake in a joint operations programme, and shares in other assets linked to the project.
LUKo...


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EBRD Chastises Some ex-Soviet Bloc States

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The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in its latest report has chastised Belarus, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan for failing to secure the necessary political reforms. According to the bank, not only are these three states the worst performers in terms of economic reform, but they don’t even “maintain the political reform achieved in the former Soviet Union.”


EBRD said its forthcoming annual meeting will take place in Uzbekistan. Despite some boos as to the country of choice, Mr. Willem Buiter, the bank’s chief economist and a former member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee, told The Guardian that the Central Asian state was selected to relay the message that like with all other countries active with the EBRD, Uzbekistan must realise that “progress towards a market economy and a more open political system are necessary conditions for sustainable development.” Another problem is that poverty has risen in several former Soviet republics. The increase is due to the countries’ switch to market-driven economies. Mr. Buiter said. However, he underlined that “there is no alternative (to reform), there is no going back.” (718)

Questioning Investors, Highway Work

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Transparency is a tough issue to deal with when it comes to privatisation and business transactions. While some governments excel at ensuring clear-cut and sure deals, others may at times sway and fail to guarantee transparency. A recent, controversial case in Italy emerged when legislators urged the country’s transport and infrastructure minister to explain how mobsters supposedly clinched public deals for highway construction. The upshot was the arrests of 37 people, and surprising or not, some were public officials and investors. Inquiries have been launched into the activities of another 80 people.


Local press said the Calabria-based mafia, known by the locals as ‘ndrangheta, clinched three percent of the multimillion dollar deals for the construction of the highway that passed “through their territory.” Included in this scandal is the A3 autostrada, connecting the Calabria region, located at the southwest tip of the “boot,” with Salerno, located just south of Naples.


Once the suspects were apprehended, officials put a freeze on the development of the 56-kilometre stretch of the highway in Calabria. Reason disclosed was that officials were concerned that the work was not being carried out appropriately.


Based on the investigators’ report, these suspects had succeeded in collecting bribes from subcontracting out some of the contracts awarded to firms close to them. But that’s not all. Another problem was that companies were taking kickbacks instead of actually doing what they were hired to do; i.e., oversee the development of the highway to ensure the work was being done correctly. The reports said some of the people arrested were key officials of ANAS, the Italian agency overseeing highway maintenance and construction. They were charged with failing to carry out the proper checks and failing to ensure that no company was in cahoots with any group involved in organised crime.


Time and time again we have been privy to how prosecutors in the south of the country have launched investigations into the alleged activities of “dirty” politicians and investors who clinch deals with mobsters to obtain public contracts. It seems that Transport and Infrastructure Minister Pietro Lunardi has a lot on his plate. One can only wonder if the answers he offers will be able to placate the legislators. (719)

Lukashenko’s Dashed Hopes

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As the United States announced that it would deny entry to Mr. Alexander Lukashenko and other top Belarussian officials, thereby showing solidarity with the European Union, which issued such a ban earlier, the Belarussian President decided to pay a visit to his country’s friendly neighbour, Russia, and discuss integration issues.


But what Mr. Lukashenko failed to do is convince Russian President Vladimir Vladimirovich that the union should be political as well as economic. Vladimir Vladimirovich said the union would be under his terms dispersing Mr. Lukashenko’s hopes of ever becoming president of a new unified state. However, Vladimir Vladimirovich said that, despite arguments, Russia’s relations with Belarus are developing “fairly well” in many areas, including the introduction of a unified currency and cooperation in the energy sector. For his part, Mr. Lukashenko said he would like to take advantage of the presence of members of the press to touch upon several issues. “A number of both Belarussian and Russian media outlets have made accusations that Belarus is seeking to change its foreign policies and is currently orienting itself towards the West. Belarus and Russia are like one other and build their relations regardless of what the heads of state wish, and their relations are dependent upon objective reasons. Our people are close, and the changing of Belarus’s foreign policy and its rejection of Russia is just out of the question,” he said even though nobody could accuse him of moving Belarus closer to the west. On the contrary, he has driven his country into diplomatic isolation.


Mr. Lukashenko also commented on statements made by certain media outlets that Russia seems to be “giving up” on Belarus under pressure from the West. “Of course, we have become weaker to some extent after the break-up of the USSR. Politics requires negotiations and even compromises. But both Russians and Belarussians view Belarus as the land that they will never give up. We have dealt with this hullabaloo quite calmly. They are trying to put us at loggerheads and (put a stop to) the development of the processes that we have initiated together,” he said. But despite Mr. Lukashenko’s assurances that things are the same between Russia and Belarus, what is increasingly clear is that Moscow views Mr. Lukashenko as an embarrassment and is less enthusiastic about his unification plan. At the same time, Vladimir Vladimirovich wants to maintain good relations with Belarus given its geographic position and the closeness of the Slavic people. (720)

Turkmen wheat harvest reaches 2 mln tn target

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Kazakh delegates in Bishkek

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Otorbaev says EBRD as direct investor in economy

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Turkmenistan issues stricter bordering transport system

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Fruitless CIS defence summit

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Itera resumes gas supplies to Georgia

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Russia to export record amount of oil after July

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Court postpones SIBUR bankruptcy hearing

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USD 800 million for Russia from LUKoil stock

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Record amount of illegal oil seized in Chechnya

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Shell, Exxonmobil and Gazprom sign pipeline deal

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Saipem lays out 2nd strand of Russia-Turkey gas pipeline

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Iraq seeks broader oil ties with Russia

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Nazarbayev upbeat about Caspian oil

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German, Turkmen officials talk oil & gas cooperation

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YUKOS to send tankerful of oil to US every month

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Surgutneftegaz ups oil output by 11.6%

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Sibneft secures USD 450 mln syndicated loan

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Gazprom to increase gas sales to Italy

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US plans to support Trans Afghanistan gas pipeline

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