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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Schlumberger Takes Back Yukos Equipment

Schlumberger, the world's No. 2 oil services firm, said Friday it removed equipment from Yukos because of concern the embattled oil giant may cease to operate.

"We made a conscious decision to remove equipment from Yukos because we were afraid they would not be able to sustain activity," CEO Andrew Gould said in a conference call with investors.

Russia may seize and sell Yuganskneftegaz, which accounts for 60 percent of Yukos' output, as early as November after the parent company failed to pay $7.5 billion in back taxes and fines for 2000 and 2001. Yukos CFO Steve Theede has said the company could go bankrupt if the state sells Yugansk.

Yukos was not available for comment. A spokesman for Schlumberger declined to elaborate on Gould's remarks.

NIKoil brokerage told its clients Friday that the Kremlin "is committed to destroying Group Menatep," Yukos' largest shareholder, and dismissed reports that foreign firms may bid for Yugansk.

A report published Friday in Italian financial daily Finanza e Mercati said Eni, Europe's fourth-largest oil company, may bid for Yugansk. Eni denied the report, but confirmed it was interested in acquiring other Russian assets.

"There don't exist any negotiations in progress for Yuganskneftegaz,'' said a Rome-based company spokeswoman who declined to be named.

"Eni's interest in Russian production is not for any specific assets,'' she said.

Eni CEO Vittorio Mincato told the Financial Times earlier this month that he aimed to buy a competitor to double Eni's market value and shield itself from predators. A purchase would not be made until after oil prices drop from current levels, he said.

Finanza e Mercati said Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will renew Mincato's mandate to run the state-controlled oil company as long as Eni invests in Russia and Libya.

Berlusconi will meet with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow next week.

(Bloomberg, MT)