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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Foreign Reserves Unchanged



The country's foreign currency and gold reserves were unchanged in the week to Oct. 21, after falling for the previous week for the first time in two months.

The reserves stayed at $162.7 billion, the Central Bank said Thursday in a statement. The reserves declined $200 million the previous week, after jumping $3.3 billion to a record $162.9 billion in the seven days to Oct. 7. (Bloomberg)




Raft of Moody's Upgrades



Gazprom, the world's biggest natural-gas producer, and three other state-controlled Russian companies had their credit ratings raised one level by Moody's Investors Service after the rating company raised Russia to the same grade.

Gazprom, oil-pipeline operator Transneft, oil producer Rosneft and rail monopoly Russian Railways were all raised to the second-lowest investment grade, Baa2, from Baa3, Moody's said Wednesday in statements. (Bloomberg)




Uzbeks Raise Export Prices



TASHKENT, Uzbekistan -- Uzbekistan will next year raise the price of natural gas exported to Russia and other ex-Soviet states to $55 per 1,000 cubic meters from $42, its state-owned gas transport company Uztransgaz said on Thursday

The move follows a demand from Turkmenistan that Russia pay more for its natural gas imports since Moscow is raising the price at which it sells its own gas to Western Europe. (Reuters)




Khristenko Upbeat on Urals



The Industry and Energy Ministry said on Thursday the country's benchmark Urals crude had good prospects for replacing Venezuelan crude as a supplier to the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve, or SPR.

The ministry said the idea was discussed by Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko on his trip to the United States this week.

He said Russian oil and products supplies to the United States were running at 470,000 bpd in 2005, up from 205,000 bpd last year and virtually zero a few years ago. (Reuters)




Rosneft Raises Field Stake



Oil company Rosneft plans to raise its stake in one of the largest deposits in eastern Siberia, which is being operated by an exploration unit of BP.

Rosneft plans to buy an 11.3 percent stake in the Verkhnechonskoye field held by the Irkutsk region administration, the local authorities said Thursday.

The local government values the stake worth 2.1 billion rubles ($73.9 million), the administration said in the statement. (Bloomberg)




Slavneft Rights in Siberia



Slavneft won the right to explore and develop oil and gas fields the Evenkiya region of eastern Siberia on Thursday, Interfax reported, citing an unidentified company spokesman.

The biggest of the three fields, Chambinskoye, may hold as much as 182 million tons of oil and 237 billion cubic meters of natural gas, Interfax said.

The other two fields are Baikitskoye, which may hold 23.6 million tons of oil and 30.9 billion cubic meters of gas, and Tulokano-Svetlaninskoye, which may hold 44.6 million tons of oil and 38.6 billion cubic meters of gas, the news service reported. The firm did not say how much it paid. (Bloomberg)




LUKoil Mulls Kazakh Plant



LUKoil may spend $3.8 billion building a plant in Kazakhstan to refine and process natural gas as it expands in Central Asia. The plant would process 14 billion cubic meters of gas a year from the Caspian region, LUKoil Vice President Alexei Smirnov said Thursday.

About 5.5 billion cubic meters could come from the Khvalynskoye field, which LUKoil is developing with KazMunaiGaz, Kazakhstan's state-owned oil and gas company, Smirnov said. (Bloomberg)




Conoco in Mazeikiu Race



VILNIUS, Lithuania -- ConocoPhillips said on Thursday it was still in the race to buy Lithuanian refinery Mazeikiu Nafta and that it was confident it would acquire the asset despite stiff competition.

Yukos is poised to sell its controlling 53.7 percent stake in the Baltic region's only refining complex and is believed to want $1 billion for it. Lithuania has a 40.6 percent stake and a final say on who the buyer will be. (Reuters)




BP Loses Project Partner



LONDON -- BP's Russian unit may lose its sole partner, the Irkutsk government, from a $1.2 billion project to build a natural-gas pipeline network in east Siberia, allowing national oil company Rosneft to boost its stake in a BP-run oil field.

Irkutsk asked a local court to annul its 50 percent share in the East Siberian Gas, Vladimir Bobylev, a spokesman for BP unit TNK-BP, said Thursday by phone from Moscow.

That would let Irkutsk sell Rosneft 11.3 percent of the Verkhnechonskoye oil field, which TNK-BP is developing, instead of using the oil stake to pay for the local government's half of east Siberian. (Bloomberg)




Transneft Primorsk Plan



Pipeline monopoly Transneft confirmed on Thursday a record 5 million tons, or 1.22 million bpd, November oil export schedule for its flagship Baltic Sea port of Primorsk despite oil firms' scepticism.

The final export plan for November, released by Transneft to oil firms, confirmed the initial guidance and showed Primorsk would load a record 50 cargoes of 100,000 tons each. (Reuters)




CNPC Takeover Complete



BEIJING -- China National Petroleum has completed its $4.18 billion takeover of PetroKazakhstan, sealing China's biggest energy takeover.

CNPC International, a unit of China National Petroleum, will pay $55 per share for the company after a Canadian court approved the deal.

Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Danial Akhmetov will help resolve remaining "challenges" for PetroKazakhstan in the country, China National Petroleum said in a statement issued after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao met Akhmetov in Moscow Wednesday. (Bloomberg)




Lebedev Sells UES Stake



Billionaire Alexander Lebedev sold his remaining 3 percent stake in national power company Unified Energy Systems for about $500 million, Vedomosti reported Thursday, citing Lebedev.

Lebedev sold the shares on the open market about three weeks ago when they were "at their peak," the newspaper reported. The shares hit a record 42 cents on the Russian Trading System on Oct. 4, valuing the utility at $17 billion, Vedomosti said.

Lebedev's National Reserve Bank, later renamed National Reserve Corp., bought 8.5 percent of UES at a state auction in 1997 for about $350 million, Lebedev told the paper. That stake was reduced after Russia's default on domestic debt and ruble devaluation in 1998, Vedomosti reported. (Bloomberg)




RusAl Ups Can Output



Russian Aluminum spent $23 million increasing production capacity for beverage cans at its factory in the Leningrad region.

The ROSTAR-Vsevolzhsk plant can now make an extra 850 million cans a year, bringing production capacity at RusAl's two factories in the region to 3 billion cans a year. (Bloomberg)




Sberbank Net Profit Soars



Sberbank's earnings rose 43 percent to 48.3 billion rubles ($1.7 billion) in the first nine months of the year from the year-earlier period, beating the bank's forecast, Interfax reported Thursday.

Net income was about 5.3 billion rubles, or 12 percent higher than forecast for the period, the news service said, citing chief executive officer Andrei Kazmin. Interfax didn't say which accounting standards were used. (Bloomberg)




Aeroflot OKs Airbus Lease



The board of directors of flagship carrier Aeroflot has approved the lease of five Airbus A320 airliners, the company said on Thursday.

Aeroflot has already said it would lease seven A321 aircraft to upgrade its fleet. (Reuters)




SocGen Loan to Norilsk



French bank Societe Generale has arranged a $400 million three-year syndicated loan for metals company Norilsk Nickel, $100 million more than originally planned, Norilsk said on Thursday.

The loan is priced at 75 basis points over LIBOR, Norilsk said. (Reuters)




VR Funds Still Operational



Moscow-based hedge fund VR Group, listed by U.S. brokerage Refco as its biggest unsecured creditor, said on Thursday that its funds were still operational as it seeks to recover its money. Entities linked to VR, a distressed-debt specialist, are owed a total of $766 million by Refco, according to a revised bankruptcy petition filed to a New York court this week. (Reuters)