Rosneft Chief Willing to Head Gazpromneft

Rosneft chief Sergei Bogdanchikov has agreed to head the Gazpromneft company that will be set up following a merger between Rosneft and Gazprom, the Russian gas monopoly, Bogdanchikov said in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.

Bogdanchikov said he had not yet received an invitation from the government to head the new company.

He said he hoped the merger would be completed by the end of this year, and that the new company could start operating in 2005.

As far as corporate procedures are concerned - the board of directors, shareholders' meeting and so on - one would like to hope that this will be completed this year," Bogdanchikov said.

Gazprom's own divisions will be concerned with the production of gas and the development of gas projects within the new company's framework, and Rosneft's divisions will produce the oil and condensate, he said.

"Rosneft plans to produce 8 billion cubic meters (bcm) and Gazprom 540 bcm of natural gas in 2004," Bogdanchikov said.

"As for offshore projects in which Rosneft is involved, the merger with Gazprom can have only a positive effect," he said. "We have quite a lot of gas in these projects, but Gazprom specializes in gas and will be more professional in this area than Rosneft," he said.

"We have no differences [with Gazprom management over the merger] because the Gazprom and Rosneft management teams are not the owners of these companies. We have a common owner in the state, and it decides all issues, including how the companies will be merged," Bogdanchikov said.