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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Scrap Metal Monopoly

The Moscow Times

President Vladimir Putin does not rule out that, as an extreme measure to halt the theft of valuable metals, a state monopoly will be created to buy scrap.

At a meeting with heads of the Atomic Physics Institute in Novosibirsk on Friday, the president was told of the large-scale looting of metals from industrial and agricultural equipment. The scientists complained that special bronze cables that had been bought at great expense had been stolen and that the law seemed absolutely powerless to solve the problem.

The scientists drew Putins attention to the importance of science as a source of economic growth that merits more recognition and resources.




Kazakh Harvest

Reuters

ASTANA, Kazakhstan Kazakhstan this year harvested 13 million metric tons of grain by bunker weight, including 10.1 million tons of wheat, Agriculture Minister Sauat Mynbayev said Friday.

"Calculated according to bunker weight, we harvested 13 million tons, which after processing we expect will be 11.5 million tons," Mynbayev said at a news conference.

Kazakhstan had forecast a harvest of no more than 11 million tons by clean weight.

Grains were harvested from a total of 12.3 million hectares in 2000, or 12.8 percent more than in 1999. Wheat was harvested from 9.8 million hectares.




Caspian Deal Close

The Associated Press

ANKARA, Turkey A top U.S. energy envoy said Friday that Azerbaijan was close to signing a deal for Caspian gas exports to Turkey and Georgia.

Turkey and Georgia want to purchase gas from recently discovered supplies in Azerbaijans Shah Deniz fields in the Caspian Sea.

"I am very confident that we will very shortly have a gas agreement that will provide the diversity of supply that Turkey and Georgia need," John Wolf, the U.S. governments Caspian energy envoy, told reporters after talks with Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit.

Azerbaijan is initially hoping to sell around 5 billion cubic meters of gas annually from the Shakh Deniz field, which is being developed by a consortium of companies led by London-based BP Amoco and Statoil of Norway.




Arms Sales No Threat

The Associated Press

BEIJING Arms sales to China are not aimed at and will not pose a threat to any third country, a Russian general said Saturday after talks with Chinese military officials.

Colonel General Valery Manilov, first deputy chief of General Staff, said Russia was willing to engage in cooperation that will "benefit Chinas national security."

"But we want to stress that this is bilateral cooperation, it is not aimed at and does not pose a threat to any third country," he said at a briefing. "This cooperation will benefit Asia-Pacific and global security and stability.

Manilov did not mention specific arms sales.

But China has spent heavily on Russian fighters, ships and other military technology in recent years to modernize its large but outdated 2.5 million-member Peoples Liberation Army.

Chinas military upgrading is in part geared toward Taiwan, the island Beijing regards as part of its territory




Dart Lawsuit Stalls

The Moscow Times

A court in the Khanty-Mansiisk region of western Siberia has dismissed the appeal brought by a company controlled by investor Kenneth Dart, Prime-Tass reported.

Dart had called for a review of a privatization auction of the Kondpetroleum oil-production unit. A subsidiary of Tyumen Oil Co., or TNK, won the auction in the fall of 1999.

The court said claims that the auction had not been conducted in accordance with the law and that TNK had failed to make payment in full were unfounded, the news agency reported.




Chaos Threat to Tbilisi

Reuters

TBILISI, Georgia Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze said Saturday that popular anger over frequent power cuts could pitch the country into chaos and he pledged to improve erratic supplies.

Shevardnadze chaired an emergency government meeting after Tbilisi streets were blocked Friday by protesters who erected barricades of stalled trolleybuses and blazing tires.

"The first serious symptoms that this can lead to mass disorder and complete chaos appeared yesterday," Shevardnadze said.

The capitals streets were calm Saturday, but there was no improvement in electricity supplies.




Rostelecom, MMT Joint

Reuters

The director of state long-distance monopoly Rostelecom, Nikolai Korolyov, retained his post as shareholders approved a reorganization of the company, Rostelecom said in a statement Monday.

Under the restructuring, approved at an extraordinary shareholders meeting over the weekend, Rostelecom merged with MMT, Moscows commercial provider of international and long-distance services.

The merger of state telecoms assets was the first of several planned in the reorganization of Svyazinvest, the national telecoms holding.




Ruble Futures Return

Reuters

Russia has relaunched ruble-dollar futures, but dealings got off to a sluggish start despite new risk-control provisions.

The Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange, or MICEX, which launched the contract Friday, has imposed tough trading rules that it considers necessary to prevent another market debacle even if this means that liquidity suffers.

Fridays relaunch saw only seven operators, making 33 deals worth $90,000. This compares with daily turnover of about $120 million before the 1998 crisis, when open positions totalled about $1 billion.




Sibneft-Sibir Venture

Reuters

No. 6 oil major Sibneft has agreed with Briton-based Sibir Energy to form a joint venture to develop several western Siberian oilfields with estimated recoverable reserves of over 2.1 billion barrels, the companies said Monday.

The venture will receive licenses for the southern part of Priobskoye field and the Palyanovskoye field from Yugraneft, a company controlled by Sibir Energy, in addition to Yugranefts adjacent Kamennoye block, the companies statement said.

Sibneft will contribute financing and technical expertise to the joint venture.






UES to Present Plan

Reuters

Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov will chair a government meeting Tuesday to discuss the restructuring of national power giant Unified Energy System, a UES official said Monday.

UES chief executive Anatoly Chubais is to present a detailed plan for the companys restructuring to the government, UES board member Andrei Trapeznikov said.

The proposed reorganization of UES, which supplies power and heating to virtually every home and factory, involves spinning off power generation, distributing and marketing units and deregulation of the electricity market.




Kazakh Oil Selloff

Reuters

ASTANA, Kazakhstan Kazakhstan plans to sell state shareholdings in two oil companies by the end of this year for at least $100 million each, a senior privatization official said Monday.

Eduard Utepov, deputy president of the Finance Ministrys state property and privatization committee, told a briefing that the state was considering selling a 30-percent holding in Mangistaumunaigaz and a 25.12 percent holding in Aktobemunaigaz. Mangistaumunaigaz, in western Kazakhstan, produced 3 million tons of crude in 1999 and plans to produce 4.15 million tons this year.

Indonesias Central Asia Petroleum owns 60 percent of the company.