Gazpromneft Ups Stake in Chevron JV to 75%

LONDON Oct. 15, 2007 (Dow Jones Newswire)

Russia's OAO Gazpromneft (SIBN.RS), the listed oil-producing subsidiary of OAO Gazprom (GAZP.RS), Monday said it increased to 75% its stake the joint venture with Chevron's (CVX) subsidiary Chevron Neftegaz.

"It is totally in line with our earlier agreement," Gazpromneft's spokeswoman told Dow Jones Newswires.

Gazpromneft's main contribution to the Northern Taiga Neftegaz joint venture is the exploration licenses in Western Siberia, while the U.S. company provides the funds, she said.

"Our financial contribution is tiny, if any," she added, but declined to give precise figures.

Chevron and Gazpromneft agreed on a Northern Taiga Neftegaz joint venture for oil exploration and development in the Yamal-Nenets region of Western Siberia in April 2006.

Under the memorandum of understanding Gazpromneft was to control more than 50% in the joint venture. However, Gazpromneft initially held a 30% stake, given that Chevron had provided most of the financing for the project.

In October 2006, Chevron said in a statement that it would "maintain a 49% joint-operated interest."

"According to the memorandum, Chevron might get this share of the project in the future, if certain conditions are met," Gazpromneft said, but declined to elaborate.

Chevron couldn't immediately be reached.

"It might be all about a possible asset swap between the companies, as Gazpromneft wants to expand its business outside Russia," said Artyom Konchin, oil and gas analyst at Aton brokerage in Moscow.

Gazpromneft said the joint venture has already drilled the first oil well in the Aikhettiskiy field and is planning to start a geological survey at the Pyakutinsky field this winter.

Russia's resource ministry estimates the first field's capacity at 35 million to 40 million tonnes of oil, and the second's at 10 million to 15 million tonnes.

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