Rosneft to Explore Abkhaz Shelf, Commence Black Sea Drilling in 2010

Russia's major oil company Rosneft will carry out prospecting, exploration and development of oil and gas fields on the Abkhaz shelf, Rosneft head Sergey Bogdanchikov told journalists.

The main areas of this work are defined in a five-year framework agreement on cooperation signed by Bogdanchikov and the Abkhaz economic development minister, Kristina Ozgan, in Sukhumi on Tuesday [26 May].

Bogdanchikov said that offshore prospecting, exploration and field development would be carried out as the first step of implementing the agreement.

Bogdanchikov said that Rosneft was coming to the republic "not in order to take anybody's business away."We are coming here to develop the economy. There is a favorable tax climate here, which is very important for business," he said.

Bogdanchikov said that two companies would be created in Abkhazia: one for offshore development, the other for selling petroleum products on the local market.

He said that the development of offshore fields in Abkhazia would not frighten off Russian tourists and would not affect the republic's environment. "Oil and gas development will be carried out according to international standards," he said.

Bogdanchikov promised to the Abkhaz public to give them an opportunity to get acquainted with the progress of the project to make sure that the environmental norms are observed when oil fields are developed.

He said that Rosneft planned to start offshore drilling in the Black Sea opposite Tuapse in 2010.

BBC Monitoring. Copyright BBC.