Rosneft Says Vankor Will Start as Planned

ReutersSergei Kudryashov
Rosneft is still aiming to start production at its giant Vankor oil field in eastern Siberia next year despite a delay in the completion of a pipeline that was supposed to carry the field's oil to Asian markets, a top company executive said Thursday.

"The crude from Vankor can go westward," first vice president Sergei Kudryashov said at a news conference. "That's why Vankor is developing as planned. No one reduced the funding."

When launched, the field will have a link to the pipeline network operated by Transneft, Kudryashov said. Crude from the field could also go to Rosneft's refineries in Angarsk and Achinsk bought recently from bankrupt Yukos, he said.

State-run Rosneft, the world's largest oil company by reserves, plans to produce at least 1.5 million tons of oil at the field by the end of next year, Kudryashov said. It hopes to produce between 25 million and 35 million tons annually later, he said.

Transneft, which is building a 30-million-ton pipeline from east Siberian fields to near the Chinese border, said last month that the project would miss its completion date by half a year. It was initially scheduled to go on line by the end of 2008, around the same time as Vankor, whose crude will fill most of the pipeline.

In other news, Kudryashov said Rosneft, which earlier this year sold half of its oil unit Tomskneft, plans to remain the company's operator but did not plan to buy the stake back, at least in the next five years. Rosneft sold the interest in Tomskneft to state-owned Vneshekonombank, now renamed the Development Bank, in an effort to reduce its debt burden after ending a shopping spree for Yukos assets.

Rosneft plans to conduct initial public offerings at its oil-servicing unit, a drilling unit and an energy unit in two to three years, Kudryashov said. There is a shortage of quality drilling services on the market, especially in the greenfield oil provinces of eastern Siberia, he said.

n Nikolai Manvelov, Rosneft's vice president for communications, declined to comment Thursday about this week's resignations of senior executives at the company.