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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Gas Pipe Off

BAKU, Azerbaijan (Reuters) ? A Trans-Caspian gas pipeline project to link Turkmenistan with eastern Turkey will most likely never be implemented, the head of Azerbaijan?s oil company was quoted as saying on Monday.

The U.S. consortium which had planned the pipe, forecast to cost $2 billion, closed their local offices last year due to the plan?s uncertain future.

The U.S. ambassador to Turkmenistan has said Washington was ready to discuss getting the project going again. However, the head of Azerbaijan?s national oil company, SOCAR, played down such an idea.

"Turkmenistan has pulled out of the project of the Trans-Caspian pipeline, and in my understanding this project will never be implemented," Azeri newspaper Azadlig quoted SOCAR chief Natik Aliyev as saying.

Il-76 Upgrade

MOSCOW (Reuters) ? Some 200 Il-76 freighters will be fitted with new engines to allow them to meet planned noise restrictions and thereby avoid a European ban, a senior Russian air official said Monday.

Viktor Samokhin, a deputy department head in the State Civil Aviation Service, said by phone the planes would be fitted with domestic PS-90 engines, allowing them to meet Stage 3 noise standards, which come into effect in April.

?Flight Volume Normal?

MOSCOW (Reuters) ? Flights through Russian air space have been little affected by U.S. air strikes against targets in Afghanistan, a senior Russian aviation official said on Monday.

Yury Averyanov, deputy head of Russia?s Air Traffic Control Department, said by telephone that Russia had not closed any routes or been forced to divert traffic after the strikes.

"Following the events of Sept. 11 in the United States, we received a list of recommendations from the International Civil Aviation Organization on tightening security measures," he said. "Those recommendations were immediately implemented and since then there has been no need for any other major changes."

Averyanov, however, said activity on some of Russia?s cross-polar routes was sharply lower due to a downturn in the global airlines industry.

Slavneft in Sudan

MOSCOW (Reuters) ? Russian-Belarussian oil firm Slavneft said Monday it would invest $126 million to develop an oil field in Sudan after signing a production-sharing agreement with the Sudanese government in January 2002.

A Slavneft statement quoted CEO Mikhail Gutzeriyev as saying the company was ready to start working on the ninth oil and gas block in central Sudan in February to March 2002.

Norilsk Upgrade

MOSCOW (Reuters) ? Investment house Troika Dialog said Monday it had upgraded metals giant Norilsk Nickel to "strong buy" from "buy," saying its shares offered good value at current levels.

"We recognize that increased global uncertainty and the cyclical downturn in metal markets changes sentiment towards the stock," Troika wrote in a research note. "Nevertheless, the company remains fundamentally very attractive at current prices."

Troika said Norilsk Nickel would produce 1.2 million ounces of platinum in 2002 compared with an estimated 1.1 million ounces in 2001. Troika forecast Norilsk?s palladium output for 2002 at 3.5 million ounces from an estimated 3.4 million ounces in 2001 and 3.3 million ounces in 2000.

For the Record

Russia has raised its 2001 grain harvest forecast to 80 million to 82 million tons from its last estimate of 80 million tons, Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev said Monday. (Reuters)

Russia?s natural gas output fell in the first nine months of this year to 420.909 billion cubic meters from 430.134 bcm in the same period of 2000, the Energy Ministry said Monday. (Reuters)

Russian exports of crude through the Druzhba pipeline to Central Europe fell 6.5 percent year on year to 42.378 million tons (1.14 million barrels per day) in January to September 2001, Energy Ministry data showed Monday. Seaborne crude exports, however, rose to 60.081 million tons from 52.901 million tons in the same period in 2000.(Reuters)

Russia?s crude oil and gas condensate output rose in the first nine months of 2001 to 257.210 million tons (6.91 million barrels per day) from 239.461 million tons in the same period last year, the Energy Ministry said Monday. (Reuters)

Rossiiskaya Gazeta published Monday a government resolution cutting the natural gas export tariff to 5 percent from 10 percent. Exporters will have to pay no less than 2.5 euros per 1,000 cubic meters of exported gas compared wit 5 euros previously. The cut becomes effective one month after its publication, the resolution said. (Reuters)