Russia May Have Bought CPC Stake

Ria-NovostiPutin and Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Masimov speaking in front of Nazarbayev's residence Thursday in Astana.
ASTANA, Kazakhstan -- Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev told Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Thursday that the two states should jointly buy Oman's share in a major pipeline, only to hear that Russia might have already bought it alone.

"Oman is a shareholder in [Caspian Pipeline Consortium] and we should buy [its stake]. We should take 50 percent each so the others do not do it. It is very important," Nazarbayev told Putin during a meeting in the Kazakh capital of Astana.

The proposal appeared to take Putin by surprise.

"I'm not entirely sure, but it seems to me we have already bought it. I need to check," Putin said.

The CPC owns the 1,580-kilometer long Tengiz-Novorossiisk oil pipeline, which links oil fields in western Kazakhstan and Russia's Black Sea coast. The CPC pipeline pumped 32.6 million tons of oil in 2007.

Russia and Kazakhstan, the two governments with a stake in CPC, have first right of refusal on Oman's 7 percent stake in the consortium, the key export route for Kazakhstan's crude oil.

Oman decided to sell its stake earlier this year, but so far there has been no information on who may have bought it.

Russia has a 24 percent stake in CPC and Kazakhstan owns 19 percent. The rest belongs to private shareholders: Chevron, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil, LUKoil and Rosneft.

In September, BP also expressed interest in selling its stake in CPC if it failed to agree with the government on terms for expanding the line.

Of the shareholders, only BP has not agreed to the expansion terms demanded by Russia. (Reuters, MT)