ChevronTexaco Mulling Russian Investment

ChevronTexaco is considering investing up to $10 billion in Russia, according to a press release issued by the Ministry of Energy and Industry Monday.

The release cited comments made by Chevron Chairman David O'Reilly to Viktor Khristenko, head of the ministry, at a meeting Friday.

"O'Reilly said ChevronTexaco is considering the possibility of investments totaling $5 billion-$10 billion in the Russian energy sector.

ChevronTexaco's largest investment in Russia to date has been through the Caspian Pipeline Consortium. However there has been increased speculation about its partnership with Russia's largest oil producer, OAO Lukoil Holdings. The government is due to sell its final 7.59% stake in Lukoil later in the third quarter, and may opt for a trade sale to a strategic investor.

ChevronTexaco is also rumored to be interested in OAO Sibirskaya Nefyanaya Kompaniya, or Sibneft, if a significant block of shares are made either from Roman Abramovich's Millhouse Capital or from beleaguered OAO Yukos.

Yukos last week offered to sell its 35% stake in Sibneft - whose value it estimates at $4.2 billion - to settle a $3.4 billion tax claim against it. So far, authorities have made no response to the offer.