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18.12.03á16:52

A NEW-YEAR GIFT FROM TURKMENBASHI
NEW PROSPECTS FOR RUSSIAN OIL AND GAS COMPANIES IN TURKMENISTAN

Russian companies may be allowed to explore oil fields on the Caspian Turkmen shelf next year. A Production sharing agreement (PSA) to regulate the exploration and exploitation of these fields is presently being agreed with the Turkmen side.

Already last year, JV "Zarit" was set up specifically for the purpose of development of the Turkmen oil fields on the Caspian Sea. It was founded by Russian companies "Rosneft" (37%), "Zarubejneft" (26%) and a subsidiary of "Itera" company, "Gaskhiminvest" (37%). "Zarit" is expected to develop four fields on the Caspian southeastern shelf on the border with Iran. According to the CEO of "Itera", Igor Makarov, apart from this, the company intends to build "a gas refining complex with a capacity of 10 bcm per year" in Turkmenistan.

Negotiations between Turkmenistan and JV Zarit have been held for two years now. All this time the sides have been trying to agree on the terms of the PSA, program of exploration works and its cost as well as the terms of other companies' possible joining a consortium.

According to Igor Makarov the signing of a final version of the PSA was planned on December 12. But, as representative of "Rosneft", Dmitriy Panteleyev, told "Nezavisimaya gazeta", the final version is not ready yet. "The sides have not agreed yet on the time of the signing of this agreement, Panteleyev said. The talks are going on. A lot of issues need to be discussed, including political ones. At present, both the PSA and feasibility study of investments are being prepared". Calling the information confidential, Panteleyev could not reveal any details of the agreement. Commenting on the possibility of Turkmenistan and Iran's participation in the project, the representative of "Rosneft" could only say that this topic was "a subject under consideration".

Preliminary evaluation of the Turkmen fields that the Russian companies set an eye on can be mane roughly by the end of 2004. But specialists forecast that the volume of oil production at these fields may rise to 15 mln tons a year and natural gas production to 10 bcm. However, representative of "Rosneft" Dmitriy Panteleyev noted that the real volume of the reserves could be estimated after the completion of a geological survey. Yet, specialists have no doubts that it is mainly about oil production.

It should be recalled that exactly the Turkmen shelf of the Caspian Sea contains the largest hydrocarbon reserves. According to specialists' estimation their reserves amount to 16,5 bln tons of fuel. The shown reserves account for about 200 mln tons of oil and 70 bcm of gas. Turkmenistan plans to attract $25,6 bln worth of foreign investments in exploration of oil and gas fields in 2003-2020. Currently, Dragon Oil from the United Arab Emirates, Maersk Oil from Denmark and Petronas from Malaysia work in Turkmenistan under PSA.

Elena BAYKOVA

"NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA", 18.12.2003

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