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Monday, September 25, 2006

Gazprom may redirect natural gas resources to Europe-Putin

COMPIEGNE (France) September 23 (RIA Novosti) - Russian energy giant Gazprom may in the foreseeable future decide to redirect a part of resources from the Shtokman gas field to European markets, President Vladimir Putin said Saturday. The Shtokman deposit holds an estimated 3.2 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, and 31 million metric tons of gas condensate in the Barents Sea. Some $12-14 billion will be invested in the project's first phase, and production will start in 2011. "Some time ago, German Chancellor Angela Merkel posed the question about the possibility of reorienting a part of resources from one of Russia's largest oil and gas deposits - the Shtokman field - to European markets," he said. "Gazprom is now considering this possibility." He also said Russia had no intention to cut energy transit via traditional routes and pledged to honor all commitments in the energy sphere. "None of our plans to expand transport infrastructure are aimed against anyone," he said. "They serve only one purpose - the diversification of transport flows to our main consumers in Europe. But our traditional transit countries will not face a shortage of resources on their markets and will continue playing an important role as transit countries. We are not planning to cut transit via transit countries." Gazprom is considering partners for the unique project off Russia's Arctic shelf, which could be operated under a production-sharing agreement, although such schemes elsewhere in Russia have come under considerable scrutiny in the past few weeks. A shortlist of companies competing for the project unveiled last September includes Norway's Statoil and Norsk Hydro, France's Total, and U.S. giants Chevron and ConocoPhillips. Gazprom will select two or three partners from the shortlist to form a consortium for the project. Gazprom, however, has repeatedly postponed the selection of Shtokman partners. The event was initially scheduled to take place in spring, then in August, but no partner has been selected so far.

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