Putin's Govt OK with Total's Acquisition of Sibneft Stake

Putin's government has no objection to French oil company Total's bid to purchase a 25 percent stake in Russian oil major Sibneft. Though a senior Kremlin official speaking on condition of anonymity neither confirmed nor denied reports on the government's position, he said that they were "aware of Total's plans to develop its relationship with its Russian partners," and this was a confirmation of foreign investors' ongoing interest in Russia.

Last month the media reported that Anglo-Dutch giant Royal Dutch/Shell, U.S. ChevronTexaco and Total were seeking to buy a 46 percent share in Sibneft, which is now attempting to disengage itself from a failed merger with Yukos. Sibneft and Total refused to comment on what their spokesmen termed "market rumors" with Sibneft spokesman John Mann adding, "Total has other green field projects in Russia so that doesn't necessarily mean the Kremlin was talking about us."