Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

PM in Kazakhstan

ALMATY, Kazakhstan (AP) ? Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev on Friday discussed a key oil pipeline project and the simmering dispute over sharing resources in the Caspian Sea.

After their meeting, Kasyanov told Kazakh state television that he and Nazarbayev had discussed "joint projects, in particular the completion and launch of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium."

The consortium, in which Russia and Kazakhstan both have stakes, was created to build a pipeline from Kazakhstan?s Tengiz oil field to Russia?s Black Sea port of Novorossiisk. The pipeline was originally scheduled to begin full operations in August, but that was postponed over customs and oil quality disputes.

"We also discussed our cooperation in transporting Kazakh oil via Russian pipelines," Kasyanov said.

Finally, he said he and Nazarbayev "agreed to step up the negotiating process on the Caspian Sea and use of its natural resources."

Urals Firms

LONDON (Reuters) ? Russian sour Urals in the Mediterranean were talked firm Friday as traders sought precise information on the results of several tenders lending support to the market.

Aside from fears of military retaliation after the terror attacks on the United States, which has pushed up futures prices, traders were focusing on the outcomes of tenders by Morocco, Greece and Yugoslavia.

Speculation suggested a Dutch trader had won part of Yugoslavia?s tender for around 240,000 tons of crude for delivery from Sept. 12 to Oct. 16. That information could not be immediately confirmed.

Traders said they were still not sure of the full results of of the tender by Greece?s Hellenic Petroleum, which had earlier been reported awarding an 80,000-ton Urals cargo to a Russian trader.

The tenders, along with the clearing out of many September cargoes, were expected to keep Urals market sentiment strong.

Traders assessed Urals at about Dated Brent -80 cents from Dated Brent -85/-80 cents.

"The market is expected to firm. Most large and small cargoes have cleared out," said a trader.

Miller, Vilnius Talks

VILNIUS, Lithuania (Reuters) ? Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller was scheduled to meet with Lithuania?s top officials Monday, the government?s press office said Friday.

Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas will meet Miller to discuss gas utility Lietuvos Dujos? privatization issues, his office said. Miller is also scheduled to meet President Valdas Adamkus later in the afternoon.

Gazprom, a gas supplier to Lithuania, is eyeing the privatization of Dujos, but wants to bid for a larger stake than Lithuania has initially put on the table.

Lithuania is in the final stages of shaping a program to sell 92 percent of the state-owned utility.

As it stands, Lithuania would offer a 34 percent stake to a Western strategic investor. The state would retain roughly 24 percent to 25 percent of the company and set aside another 25 percent to gas suppliers.

Gazprom and its local partners have said they want to bid for a stake at least equal in size of that to be offered to Western investors.

TNK Online Sale

LONDON (Reuters) ? Oil producer TNK on Friday awarded a 52,000-ton Urals cargo to trader Glencore in its first online oil tender offer through Internet-based OILspace services group, a company source said.

The Urals cargo loading out of the Baltic seaport of Ventspils on Sept. 28 and 29 was sold at Dated Brent - $2.34, the source said.

"This is the first time we have conducted a tender electronically. We are very satisfied with the software and personnel," the source said.

"We are going to continue activity and are planning two more tenders online in October if we have the free volumes," the source said, adding that one cargo would likely load from Ventspils and the other from Novorossiisk.

Industry sources say this is the first live transaction over OILspace?s Nexus system, a proprietary platform that allows for multilateral negotiations and auctioning of oil cargoes.

OILspace, a privately owned company founded last year by an oil trader and a mathematician, is an online-services company that aims to provide a variety of services to oil companies, from news feeds to risk-management tools to back-office tasks.

Several online ventures are now making headway into the physical oil trading market after an initial burst of mostly U.S.-based efforts withered following last year?s bust.

Tariff Meeting Delayed

MOSCOW (Reuters) ? The meeting of a government commission that was to consider Friday a revision of natural gas, crude oil and sugar customs tariffs has been postponed until next week, a spokesman for the commission?s head said.

Gennady Yezhov, spokesman for Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Kudrin, declined to give the reasons for the delay or name a date for the new meeting.

The commission had planned to consider cutting the natural gas export tariff to 5 percent from the current 10 percent and adjusting export tariffs on crude oil for 2002 in accordance with a new law on customs tariffs.

It also planned to set a higher import tariff for raw sugar in the third quarter of 2001 to protect domestic beet producers.

Oil Tariff Increase?

MOSCOW (Reuters) ? The Energy Ministry has proposed raising the fuel oil export tariff to 32 euros per ton from 20 euros to keep it inside the country in winter, Energy Minister Igor Yusufov was quoted as saying Friday.

Newspaper Vremya Novostei quoted him as saying that in compensation to oil companies, the ministry had proposed lowering gas oil tariffs to 32 euros per ton from 39 euros.

"Two weeks ago we presented our proposals," Yusufov said. "I believe that next week the government commission [for protective measures in foreign trade] will approve it and they will become effective in a month?s time."

Yusufov added that in the case of a hard winter, the government might also examine the possible reintroduction of export quotas on fuel-oil exports.

Ruble Up 2 Kopeks

MOSCOW (Reuters) ? The ruble gained 2 kopeks against the dollar Friday, although market liquidity remained low due to settlement difficulties after the terror attacks in the United States, dealers said.

The Central Bank, based on the results of the trading session, set its official next-day rate at 29.45 after a previous 29.47.

"There is a feeling that all payments are not done smoothly, that is why market liquidity is bad. There is no real trade, only clients? orders are being fulfilled," said Moscow Narodny Bank dealer Vasily Ushakov.

Russia's main forex trading venue, the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange, suspended morning trade at regional exchanges Thursday because of problems in getting information from the Bank of New York.

It later switched to JP Morgan Chase. Dealers said many Russian banks had also switched to JP Morgan Chase.

Sugar-Crude Tender

MOSCOW (Reuters) ? Russia plans shortly to hold a tender to award the right to supply Cuba with oil in exchange for sugar, Energy Minister Igor Yusufov was quoted as saying Friday.

"Our colleagues from the Economic Development and Trade Ministry are currently preparing it [the tender], and I believe it will take place in the near future," Yusufov told the Vremya Novostei daily.

The former Soviet Union supplied its Caribbean ally with most of the crude oil consumed on the island, accepting the lion?s share of Cuban sugar output, for which it paid preferential prices. The oil came essentially from Venezuela under swap deals.

Russia will next month hold a tender to award the right to import 3.65 million tons of sugar in 2002 at a discount import tariff rate of 5 percent of the customs value of the sugar.

All sugar imported above the quota will be liable to a 40 percent tariff, which will rise to 50 percent in the next half of 2002.

Grain Outlook Up

MOSCOW (AP) ? Russia will harvest as much as 77 metric tons of grain this year, an increase of more than 15 percent over last year, a top agriculture official said Friday.

The bigger harvest will allow Russia to meet its domestic needs as well as export some grain, First Deputy Agriculture Minister Anatoly Mikhalev said at a meeting with European Union agriculture officials, Interfax reported.

Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov had earlier expressed hope that Russia, once one of the world?s largest grain importers, could begin exports again. Earlier this year, Moscow said it wasn?t planning any state-organized grain imports in 2001.

Russia?s grain market is becoming profitable, Mikhalev said.

However, he also acknowledged the country is having difficulties quickly adjusting its legislation to EU standards.

The ministry is also concerned about proposals to remove import tariffs on agricultural and other goods and reduce farm subsidies to $2.50 per arable hectare. Such subsidies are now $15 in Russia, Mikhalev said.