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Monday, July 03, 2006

Gazprom Secures Control of Gas Field Enough to Supply All of Britain for 3 Years

gaspipe30.06.2006 - MosNews - Russia's natural gas monopoly Gazprom said on Thursday, June 29, that it won control over a big Siberian gas field. The 51 percent stake in Beregovoye field was sold by Itera, Russia's largest indepedent gas producer, to Gazprom's banking arm Gazprombank. The field is located close to the production base of Gazprom, the world's largest gas producer, which supplies a quarter of Europe's gas. It will further boost Gazprom reserves base, already representing one sixth of the world's total. With reserves of 320 billion cubic metres of gas, Beregovoye would be able to supply Britain for more than three years. The purchase of the deposit, Itera's top asset, follows Gazprom's acquisition of a 20 percent stake in Russia's top independent gas producer Novatek for $2.5 billion earlier this week. Analysts quoted by Reuters have said the deal gave Gazprom a stake in its nearest rival while assuring Novatek of the protection of the Kremlin-backed giant, which dominates the gas sector in Russia. The Kremlin has been tightening its grip on Russia's energy sector over the past two years, bringing Gazprom, oil firm Sibneft and the bulk of Yukos under direct control, and toughening laws to restrict foreign access. Novatek's and Itera's major business risk is their reliance on Russia's pipeline network, over which Gazprom has a de facto monopoly. Renaissance Capital brokerage has said Gazprom may see its expansion on the domestic market as a way of freeing itself from growing reliance on imports of Central Asian gas as well as securing supplies for the domestic market, allowing it to concentrate on lucrative exports. Gazprom's production has been stagnating in the past years while the firm faces growing demand at home and from Europe and therefore has to rely heavily on imports from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. As MosNews reported, Turkmenistan reiterated on Thursday it would cut supplies to Gazprom if it failed to agree on a new price.

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