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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Gazprom Arranges Prepurchase for Centrica

02-03-2006, Kommersant -For the second time in a fortnight, Gazprom said yesterday it considers whether to acquire the U.K. largest gas distributor Centrica plc. Gazprom needs an end user in Great Britain to provide economical substantiation for extending the North European Gas Pipeline from the continental Europe to the British Isles. Meanwhile, Centrica's capitalization rose 16 percent to ?11 billion on aggregate on statements of the gas monopoly of Russia. "The issue [a stake in Centrica] is currently analyzed and considered. No decision has been taken," Alexander Shkut, deputy director of Gazexport, told foreign investors over the phone conference Thursday, having fueled Centrica quotes on LSE. "Shkut was misinterpreted, no deals are planned," press service of Gazprom announced some time later, driving down the quotes of Centrica, which closed 8 percent up just the same. Apart from Centrica, Gazprom is eyeing another U.K. operator, Scottish Power, which capitalization stands at $19 billion. We have good retail business in Great Britain with large industrial consumers and power plants and hope to get control over 20 percent of that market by 2015, Gazprom deputy board chairman Alexander Medvedev said in January as quoted by The Guardian. Both Centrica and Scottish Power were mentioned in the interview. Gazprom intends to launch offshore construction of North European Gas Pipeline in 2007 and connect Russia and Germany in the end. The second branch of the pipeline will be laid by 2013 to take gas to the United Kingdom provided Gazprom finds annual users for 20 billion cubic meters there.

Friday, February 3, 2006

Gazprom Holding Negotiations on Direct Access to Italian Market

01/02/2006 (17:04) RZD Partner News - - Russia's Gazprom gas giant is holding negotiations on the direct access to the Italian gas market, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin told a Tuesday press conference in Rome. Italian Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti and Kudrin told the press conference about results of their negotiations. Kudrin did not give any details of the negotiations between Gazprom and ENI, which has leading positions on the Italian retail gas market, as well as intergovernmental negotiations to the effect. ENI CEO Paolo Scaroni thinks that Gazprom wish to sell natural gas directly to Italian clients is legal but the agreement will not be reached in the near future. Italian Minister of Productive Activities Claudio Scajola said that Italy is ready to open the domestic gas market to Gazprom in the future. Kudrin did not comment on the Gazprom possible interest in buying stock of the Snam Rete Gas company that operates Italian gas pipelines. Snam Rete Gas is a subsidiary of ENI, whose main shareholder is the Italian government. The government has decided that ENI will stop controlling Snam Rete Gas in 2008 and stock will be sold to private investors. Privatization of the gas transport company should be analyzed anew bearing in mind the recent gas crisis in Italy, Tremonti said. He did not say whether privatization of Snam Rete Gas will be delayed, reports ITAR-TASS.

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