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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Agip Wins Kashagan

The Associated Press

ALMATY, Kazakhstan — A consortium of international oil companies Monday chose Agip of Italy as sole operator of a massive oil field in the Caspian Sea in western Kazakhstan, according to a statement from Kazakh Oil, one of the companies involved.

The decision by shareholders in the consortium, known as the Offshore Kazakhstan International Operating Co., ended months of delays that have piqued Kazakh officials and set back development schedules. The decision was a major boost to Agip, which will now be responsible for managing the $20 billion project.

The Kashagan field in the northern part of the oil-rich Caspian is one of the world's largest oil development projects. The field is estimated to hold reserves of about 35 billion barrels, but is situated in an environmentally sensitive area in shallow water that freezes during the winter.

No Devaluation Set

The Moscow Times

The government does not intend to devalue the ruble below the exchange rate of 30 rubles against the dollar, Prime-Tass quoted a source in the Finance Ministry as saying Monday.

The government's goal in 2001 is the conservation of the ruble's nominal exchange rate "with the possibility of its slight devaluation," he stressed.

Beside the curtailment of the inflation, this is necessary to increase interest on government securities that now have the lowest possible yields, the agency quoted the source as saying.

IMF Compromises

The Associated Press

Negotiators have reached a compromise with visiting International Monetary Fund officials on sticking points including projected currency reserves, a news report said Sunday.

The IMF, the nation's chief lender, had initially insisted that the Central Bank boost its gold and currency reserves by $14 billion in 2001, Interfax reported. Officials said the projection was unrealistic, instead forecasting an increase of $6 billion.

A high-level IMF mission that arrived in Moscow last week reached agreement with negotiators on a $7.6 billion increase, the report said.

German Debt Deal


BERLIN — The German Finance Ministry said Monday it had reached an agreement in principle with Moscow under which Russia will service its Soviet-era debts.

"There have been advances insofar as the Russian side has said it was ready to include its responsibilities on 57 billion marks ($27.1 billion) of Soviet-era debt in their budget," a Finance Ministry spokesman said.

The agreement came after talks Sunday between German Deputy Finance Minister Caio Koch-Weser and Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Kolotukhin ahead of a two-day meeting of the German-Russian Council for Cooperation in Berlin on Monday.

Russia's debt negotiator, Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref, was also scheduled to attend the meeting.

$1Bln Reactor Plan

The Moscow Times

ST. PETERSBURG — Nuclear energy officials last week announced a $1 billion project to construct a safe and technologically advanced reactor at the Leningrad Nuclear Power Station, or LAES, the northwest region's biggest energy supplier.

Officials, however, said that groundbreaking for the new reactor at LAES — located 60 kilometers west of St. Petersburg — could be as far as four years off, given financial difficulties.

The new reactor — called a VVER-640 — would differ significantly in construction from the four reactors now in use at LAES, which are of the notorious Chernobyl-style RBMK 1000, said Rudolf Filin, deputy director of the northwest branch of the Nuclear Power Ministry's Nuclear Technology Institute, which commissioned the reactor.

Locust Swarms


ALMATY, Kazakhstan — Kazakhstan, hard hit by locusts in recent years, expects a less aggressive invasion this season but the insects will remain a scourge for many years, scientists and officials said Friday at a conference on locusts.

Saktash Khasenov, head of the plant protection department at the Agriculture Ministry, said hasty but flawed reforms and scarce financing in the ex-Soviet state's agricultural sector had led to the collapse of collective farms and their once well-organized system of chemical protection.

Sagitov said the fast spread of locusts beyond the country's borders might sour relations with neighbors.

"This is becoming a political issue — it is enough only to recall the angry government notes that Kazakhstan received from Russia and Kyrgyzstan last year," he said.