Business in Brief

OPEC May Not Use Dollar



NEW YORK-- The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries may drop dollar pricing within two years, LUKoil deputy chief executive Leonid Fedun said Wednesday.

OPEC may switch to using a basket of currencies in 2009, "which will be a blow for the dollar, and we are yet to realize the potential outcome of this," Fedun said. (Bloomberg)




Tariff Hike Unlikely



Transneft has requested a tariff hike of 20.1 percent next year but is unlikely to get it, analysts said Wednesday.

The Federal Tariffs Service is reviewing Transneft's request -- which would apply to domestic and exported oil and gas -- and will make a decision by Wednesday.

But analysts feel the amount, which is the highest Transneft has ever asked for, would put further cost pressure on oil producers already groaning under the burden of high crude oil export taxation. (Reuters)




Kovykta Field Sale Delayed



TNK-BP and Gazprom plan to close the sale of the Kovykta field in Siberia no later than the first quarter of 2008, RIA-Novosti reported Wednesday.

Viktor Vekselberg, one of the billionaire shareholders in the venture, said the delay arose for "technical reasons" and did not mean the Russian owners were planning to sell their shares in TNK-BP, the news agency reported. Vekselberg and fellow shareholder Mikhail Fridman have denied that they are in talks to sell their stakes in TNK-BP to Gazprom. (Bloomberg)




Gazprom, Iran in Gas Talks



Gazprom discussed the development of Iran's South Pars gas field with Deputy Iranian Oil Minister Hossein Noghrehkar Shirazi on Wednesday.

Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller and Shirazi also talked about possible cooperation on transportation, processing and marketing gas in Iran, the Gazprom said. (Bloomberg)




Gazprom to Up U.K. Sales



Gazprom said it wanted to expand gas sales in Britain after its chief executive, Alexei Miller, met Britain's energy minister Wednesday.

Miller and Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks discussed the "prospects of increasing sales of Russian natural gas" in Britain and Gazprom's cooperation with British energy companies at a meeting in Moscow, Gazprom said in a statement. (Bloomberg)




Serbia, Russia to Sign Deal



BELGRADE -- Russia's ambassador to Serbia handed over a draft agreement on the joint Serbian-Russian development of a gas pipeline to Serbia, Energy Minister Aleksandar Popovic said, the Ekonomist newspaper reported.

The signing of a deal between Serbia and Gazprom to build the Blue Stream pipeline is expected within a month, Popovic said, the newspaper reported. The draft agreement also calls for a partnership to develop the Banatski Dvor gas storage in northern Serbia and to modernize Naftna Industrija Srbije, or NIS oil and gas producer and retailer. (Bloomberg)




LUKoil to Publish Discovery



NEW YORK -- LUKoil plans to publish data next year on an oil field discovered in the northern Timan-Pechora region, deputy chief executive Leonid Fedun said in New York on Wednesday.

Two wells have shown the resources are "very impressive," Fedun said. (Bloomberg)




LUKoil to Finish Upgrade



LONDON -- LUKoil will complete the second stage of an upgrade at its refinery in Odessa, Ukraine, by the end of March, the company said in a statement Wednesday.

LUKoil reopened the Odessa plant in October after two years of reconstruction, which doubled output of high-octane gasoline and added European-standard jet-fuel production. The company said in November that it would install a visbreaker unit by the second quarter of 2008. (Bloomberg)




Lukin's Energy Agency Post



Andrei Lukin, head of strategic development at Unified Energy System, will join his former boss Dmitry Akhanov at the Federal Energy Agency, the energy ministry said Wednesday in a statement.

Lukin, 37, became deputy head of the agency Monday, the energy ministry said. The federal agency reports to the Industry and Energy Ministry and is responsible for management of state property in the oil, natural gas and power industries. (Bloomberg)




MegaFon Dividends Soon



STOCKHOLM -- TeliaSonera's Tero Kivisaari, who runs the Swedish phone company's Eurasian unit, said Wednesday that MegaFon might start paying a dividend.

TeliaSonera is MegaFon's largest owner, with a 44 percent stake, which it wants to increase. The Stockholm-based company's Russian investments added 1.2 billion kronor ($186.6 million) to earnings in the third quarter, up 54 percent from a year earlier, fueled by growth at MegaFon. (Bloomberg)




Corbina Plans Stock Sale



Corbina Telecom is preparing to sell 20 to 30 percent of its shares on Russian and London stock exchanges, Kommersant reported Wednesday.

Co-owner Alexander Mamut will sell the shares for $140 million to $240 million in an initial public offering in the second half of 2008, the newspaper said, citing an unidentified investment banker. Corbina has more than 310,000 retail and 10,000 corporate fixed-line telephone customers, as well as 27,000 mobile subscribers in Moscow, Kommersant said. (Bloomberg)




Sitronics Wins $100M Deal



Sitronics, billionaire Vladimir Yevtushenkov's electronics unit, won a 2.5 billion ruble ($100 million) order for magnetic-strip cards from the metro operator, Gennady Krasnikov, head of Sitronics' microelectronics department, said Wednesday. (Bloomberg)




Two Banks Drop X5 Loan



LONDON -- ABN Amro and WestLB have pulled out of a three-year syndicated loan for X5 Retail Group, with the company's demands over the margin rate cited as one of the reasons for withdrawing from talks, a banking source said.

The two banks were among seven lenders verbally mandated by the company to lead a $1.5 billion facility. The remaining five banks -- BNP Paribas, Calyon, HSBC, ING and RZB -- are continuing discussions with the borrower over the size and pricing of the loan. (Reuters)




Kazakh Media Role



Michael von Schlippe, a board member of Independent Media Sanoma Magazines, bought 20 percent of Kazakhstan's glossy magazine publisher Partners Media Group and will become its president in February, Vedomosti reported Wednesday.

Schlippe will also stay at his current post at Independent Media, the parent company of The Moscow Times. (MT)