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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Ruble Slides Past 31

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The official ruble rate fell to a new low in early trade Monday as the Central Bank finally let it break through the psychologically important level of 31 to the dollar, dealers said.

The ruble fell to a weighted average for today settlement of 31.0632 to the dollar from 30.9949 in the previous session. Based on the unified session of eight exchanges, the Central Bank set the next-day ruble-dollar rate at 31.0632.

UES, E.ON Cooperate

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Electricity monopoly Unified Energy Systems said Monday it had signed a letter of intent with German utility E.ON Energie to carry out a feasibility study for the construction of new generators in Russia.

The companies may approach international lenders for funding.

The feasibility study will be completed by Nov. 30.

Gazprom in Iran

PARIS (Reuters) -- The giant offshore South Pars gas field, the largest project in Iran involving international oil and gas companies, has begun production, French oil giant TotalFinaElf said Monday.

TotalFinaElf has a 40 percent stake and operates the $2 billion project. Malaysia's Petronas and Gazprom have a 30 percent stake each.

$150M Gazprom Loan

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Germany's Deutsche Bank has extended a $150 million unsecured loan to Gazprom to be used for the company's operational needs, Gazprom said Monday.

"This loan, in combination with the similar financing of $100 million arranged by the Deutsche Bank in December 2001, are the first one-year unsecured loan facilities for Gazprom since the Russian financial crisis in August 1998," it said in a statement.

Sakhalin Well Drilling

MOSCOW (MT) -- The first operational oil well of the Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project is expected to be drilled this year, the president of state oil company Rosneft said in an interview with Kommersant published Monday.

Full-scale drilling will begin in 2003, Sergei Bogdanchikov said.

The Sakhalin-1 project includes three oil and gas fields near the island of Sakhalin in the Far East, with reserves estimated at 420 billion cubic meters of gas and 340 million tons of oil.

Auto Industry Plan

MOSCOW (MT) -- Two ministries coordinating a development plan for the auto sector on Sunday handed the government a watered-down version of the document that includes proposals on blocking imports of used cars older than five years.

Auto lobbyists' strongest demands were kept in the document, Vedomosti reported sources within the Economic Development and Trade Ministry, which worked on the plan, as saying.

Industry officials -- along with the Economic Development and Trade Ministry and the Industry, Science and Technology Ministry, which also worked on the plan -- declined to give the tariff rate.

Moskvich Warning

MOSCOW (MT) -- City Hall has warned the federal government that the Moskvich auto factory will suffer "serious social tensions" unless a controlling stake in the enterprise is passed to the city administration, Interfax reported Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov's spokesman as saying.

Despite years of negotiations, city authorities have yet to receive a controlling stake in the state-owned carmaker, Sergei Tsoi said last week.

Moscow utility Mosenergo frequently switches off power to Moskvich, and this could "negatively affect its large workforce," Interfax reported him as saying.

Platinum Peak

LONDON (Reuters) -- Platinum prices hit eight-month highs in Europe on Monday, lifted by signs the U.S. economy is gathering steam, which fuelled optimism over demand for the industrial metal, traders said.

In London, platinum was fixed at $526 an ounce, up from $522 at the fixing on Friday afternoon and topping levels of $524 an ounce last seen July 18.

Platinum is one of the platinum group metals. Russia is a major PGM producer and is the main source for palladium -- the other key PGM.

Sovkomflot Tanker

MOSCOW (MT) -- Top shipping company Sovkomflot received its second Suez-Max-class oil tanker from South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., Prime-Tass reported Sovkomflot as saying Monday.

The new tanker was officially transferred to its crew in South Korea's port of Ulsan on March 8.

For the Record

No. 1 oil producer LUKoil and the Railways Ministry have signed a cooperation agreement to boost the transport of oil and oil products by rail and increase the quality of services, Prime-Tass reported the Railways Ministry as saying Monday. (MT)

The number of cellular phone subscribers in Russia rose 6.6 percent in February to 9.23 million from 8.66 million at the end of January, Interfax reported Monday. (MT)

Gasoline output rose 5.5 percent year on year in February to 2.1 million tons, Prime-Tass reported an oil industry source as saying Monday. (MT)

Fyodor Andreyev was named first vice president of diamond monopoly Alrosa on Monday, Kommersant reported. (MT)

City Hall will not participate in a working group to discuss problems associated with the introduction of per-minute billing by the Moscow City Telephone Network, or MGTS, Interfax reported Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov's spokesman, Sergei Tsoi, as saying. (MT)