Friday, November 24, 2006
Oil Exports Could Be Reoriented
Nov. 23, 2006 - Kommersant by Natalia Skorlygina, Denis Rebrov - Alexander Dyukov, until recently president of SIBUR, became acting president of Gazprom Neft yesterday. The company's board of directors chose him to replace Alexander Ryazanov, who left the company and Gazprom on November 15. Dyukov is expected to be confirmed as president of Gazprom Neft (formerly known as Sibneft) at an unscheduled shareholders meeting on December 30. Analysts suggest that one of the consequences of that appointment will be the transfer of oil exports from that company to Gazprom Export. The main buyer for the company's oil would then become an affiliate of Gennady Timchenko's Rossiya Bank. In spite of the respect his managerial skill have earned within the industry, it is possible that Dyukov will face problems assembling a management team. When Ryazanov took over the leadership of the company a year ago (when it was acquired by Gazprom), he faced the exodus of three of the top executives from the company, as well as the president of the main production affiliate. Three new top managers were assembled by Ryazanov only with difficulty and are known to be loyal to him. They are vice president for production Reval Mukhametzyanov, vice president for strategy Leonid Reznikov and vice president for refining and sales Anatoly Cherner. Reznikov has been described as “especially close” to Ryazanov, although he and Cherner both declined to comment on the possibility of their resignations. A Kommersant source in a Gazprom Neft subsidiary said that Mukhametzyanov wrote a letter of resignation on November 17, but Mukhametzyanov himself denied that. Gazprom promised to “try to retain valued specialists.” New SIBUR president Dmitry Konov has stated that he will “rely on the team formed at the holding by Alexander Dyukov.” Besides personnel problems, Dyukov may also face production problems. In 2005, the company's production (not counting Slavneft) fell 3 percent to 33.4 million tons. This year, the company itself is estimating its production at 32-33 tons. Ryazanov is given credit for stabilizing production at the company but the company needs to buy back the 20 percent of its stock owned by YUKOS. Ryazanov was unsuccessful in doing that before the latter company's bankruptcy. Now that task will be more complex. Analysts expect ties between Gazprom and Gazprom Neft to become stronger with Ryazanov's departure. The company's exports may be redirected as well. Ryazanov insisted on the independence of the company's exports and the retention of Sibneft's trader Siboil. There is no formal agreement with Siboil though, so the export procedure can be changed without special confirmation by Gazprom Neft's board. Analysts expect Gazprom Neft's exports, which consist of 13.7 million tons in the Transneft system, to be shifted to Gazprom Export, as happened with SIBUR when Dyukov took over that company. Exports by Gazprom Export are handled by the trader Gunvor, which is considered on the market to be under the control of Gennady Timchenko, owner of Rossiya Bank.