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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

$320M Bond Payment



MOSCOW (Reuters) Russia transferred to international creditors $320.53 million in interest on sovereign Eurobonds maturing in 2005 and 2018, a Finance Ministry spokesman said Monday.

"The funds are reserved. [Russias foreign debt agent] Vneshekonombank is instructed to transfer them to Citibank today," he said.

The payment day for the two semiannual coupons is July 24.




Iran Caspian Warning



TEHRAN, Iran (Reuters) The Iranian Oil Ministry has warned foreign energy firms about working with other states in areas of the Caspian Sea, which Iran considers its territory, the official IRNA news agency reported late Sunday.

The agency said Iran had earlier summoned Azerbaijans charg? daffaires in Tehran "to protest plans by Azerbaijan and unidentified foreign companies to explore oil deposits in Irans sector of the Caspian."

The division of the Caspian between the five littoral states remains unresolved despite protracted talks. Iran has said the states should decide jointly on the Caspians resources, but has also demanded a 20 percent block, which some analysts say is an overly ambitious claim.

"Any contract signed with other countries in the [Iranian] sector is invalid," IRNA quoted an Oil Ministry statement as saying, without specifying any particular projects or firms that may be involved.

"The authorities will stop the prospecting activities of any company in the mentioned sector and the Oil Ministry will no more enter into a contract with such companies," it said.




Blue Stream Sacking



ANKARA, Turkey (Reuters) The general manager of Turkish state oil and gas pipeline company Botas, Gokhan Yardim, has been sacked, energy ministry officials said Monday.

They gave no reason for the move.

Botas is under investigation for alleged irregularities in connection with the Blue Stream gas pipeline project, which envisages a 1,200-kilometer pipeline from southern Russia across the Black Sea to Turkey, ending in Ankara.

A state security court started an investigation in the Blue Stream project in May after allegations that the project had incurred losses to the state by making a $52 million down payment to a consortium building the Turkish section of the pipeline.

The $2.3 billion Blue Stream pipeline projects undersea section will be built by a joint venture between Italian Eni and Russian Gazprom. Eni officials said Saturday in Istanbul the Blue Stream investigation would have no impact on the project because the Turkish section of the pipeline is already complete.




Ruhrgas-Gazprom Deal



FRANKFURT, Germany (Reuters) Germanys biggest gas supplier, Ruhrgas AG, is expected to take part in a planned several billion dollar gas pipeline project in China with Gazprom, Handelsblatt reported Sunday.

The German business daily said in a preview of the article that Ruhrgas had until Monday to tell Beijing whether it would commit financially to the deal.

The newspaper cited sources in the companies involved, saying heavily indebted Gazprom was turning to European partners such as Ruhrgas, Gaz de France and the gas subsidiary of Italian energy group Eni, Snam for help.

Intensive negotiations were underway, it reported.

Ruhrgas officials were not immediately available for comment.

Ruhrgas largest shareholders include British-based oil company BP Plc., which last week agreed to sell a 25.5-percent stake in Ruhrgas to Europes second largest listed utility E.ON AG.

Foreigners hold an 11-percent stake in Gazprom, the worlds largest gas company. Ruhrgas holds the largest stake, five percent.

Earlier this month Gazprom held talks with Chinese officials to discuss future energy cooperation between Russia and China, including potential cooperation in the planned east-west pipeline within Chinas borders.




Surgut Denial



MOSCOW (Reuters) Russias third-largest oil producer Surgutneftegaz denied on Monday that it was buying or considering buying oil major Sibneft, a rumor that has caused Sibneft shares to jump.

"We are inclined to view these persistent rumors as the effort of a certain group of people to profit on share price rises," Surgutneftegaz said in a statement.

The rumors launched Sibneft shares to a year high of $0.4825 in late June, and the share has seen a few related spikes in spite of Sibnefts own denials.

The companies production units are reasonably close to each other in western Siberia, and analysts say a deal would be logical for both parties.

Analysts say Surgut is sitting on around $4 billion in cash and is under pressure to acquire assets to sustain production.

"Surgutneftegaz does not exclude and has never excluded the possibility of acquiring companies, merging or entering into consortiums, but at this stage the company has no profitable projects of this type," the statement said.




Tupolev Freighters



LONDON (Reuters) Britains AirRep Group is planning to operate up to five 27 ton capacity Tu-204-100C freighters by 2003, the company said Monday.

AirRep has been using one Tu-204 freighter for about a year, which is used mainly by TNT operating dual rotations five nights per week between its Liege hub and Scandinavia, a statement added.

The TNT contract for the aircraft, which is based at Hahn and has a range of up to 4,300 kilometers, has been renewed until 2001, after an initial three month trial.

The aircraft now in use was the second off the Aviastar production line in Ulyanovsk and is fitted with Russian, Perm PS90 engines enhanced with Pratt & Whitney control technology, it added.

AirRep director Andy Lewis said the plane "fills a gap in the freighter market for a medium range, medium capacity aircraft that can operate within night noise limitations now and in the future."