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The Scotsman: Sibir may hand Shell JV stake to Gazprom – report

21 September 2006

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian oil firm Sibir Energy may hand half of a Siberian joint venture with Royal Dutch/Shell to Gazprom’s oil arm in return for control of Moscow’s oil refinery, Vedomosti newspaper reported on Thursday.

Sibir’s main shareholder Shalva Chigirinsky told Vedomosti that under the proposed deal Sibir would end up with 75 percent of the Moscow refinery. The City of Moscow government would have 25 percent, but control of the plant would be shared equally.

He said the deal, which was worked out in principle last year, would be completed within six weeks.

London-listed Sibir would hand Gazprom Neft its 50 percent share of Salym Petroleum Development, a Siberian oil production joint venture operated by its partner Shell and Sibir’s small production firm Magma.

Salym, which started producing commercially last November, is among the largest onshore projects in Russia and is expected to be producing at least 165,000 barrels per day by the end of the decade.

Together with the Moscow City government, Sibir has been battling for years for control of the Moscow refinery with Gazprom’s oil arm Gazprom Neft , formerly called Sibneft, and its partner Tatneft .

Gazprom Neft and regional oil producer Tatneft have 56 percent of the ownership but only 46 percent of the voting shares, leaving Sibir and Moscow City with operational control.

The refinery is a major exporter of refined products as well as a supplier to the capital and last year processed 9.35 million tonnes of crude oil (188,000 barrels per day).

Sibir and Gazprom Neft have also been in dispute for years over their joint ownership of Sibneft-Yugra, a company with a licence to develop oilfields in Western Siberia.

Sibir says Sibneft, which was subsequently bought by Gazprom and renamed, illegally diluted its share of the venture from 50 percent to less than 1 percent. The row prompted court proceedings in Russia, Britain and the British Virgin Islands.

Sibir says a $16,000 issue of shares cheated it out of its half share of Sibneft-Yugra, which it values at $2 billion (1 billion pounds).

Gazprom bought Sibneft last year from billionaire Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich for $13.1 billion (6.9 billion pounds).

(c) Reuters 2006. All rights reserved.

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