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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Putin: Law Must Help Poor

President Vladimir Putin said Monday he wants a new law on subsoil use to help local communities, signaling Russia's intention to share its vast mineral wealth more fairly among the poor.

Putin was quoted by Interfax as saying that the law should include "all the tools needed for protecting the local population, both in the sense of its economic potential and in the sense of environmental protection."

"All the people whom I have met in the north and in other regions were not opposed to the state having control of national resources, as long as the citizens' rights and environmental laws are observed," he said.

Investors will closely watch a government review of the law on Thursday for signs of the state tightening its control. (Reuters)

Moldova Holds UES Official

CHISINAU, Moldova -- A Moldovan court ordered a former minister held for 10 days on Monday in connection with the sale of 21 MiG-29 warplanes to the United States in 1997.

Valery Pasat, a senior manager at Russian electricity giant Unified Energy Systems, was detained Saturday on arrival at the airport in Chisinau.

"This concerns the illegal sale of 21 MiG-29 aircraft, as a result of which Moldova's budget sustained millions of dollars in damages," a prosecution statement said.

Moldova's finance minister at the time said the sale raised $40 million for the state budget. Parliament set up a commission in 1997 to investigate the sale after complaints that the price was too low. The probe is continuing.

Anatoly Chubais, head of UES, said he would take action to have Pasat released. (Reuters)

Yukos Exporting in April?

Yukos, Russia's biggest oil exporter last year, may resume exporting crude by pipeline to Europe next month, Yukos senior vice president Alexander Temerko said.

"If they don't seize more money, assets or oil, we will try to export oil in April," Temerko said Monday by telephone from London. "We can't completely leave the international market."

How much oil the company can export will depend mostly on transport fees and export duties, Temerko said. "The most important factor is the availability of financing," he said. (Bloomberg)

Chubais Backs Siemens

Russia should not back out of an agreement with Siemens to sell a majority stake in Siloviye Mashiny, or Power Machines, after delays, Vedomosti reported, citing Unified Energy Systems head Anatoly Chubais.

Government officials may pull out of the agreement, Chubais said in an interview with the magazine Profil that was to be published Monday, the newspaper reported.

"This is horrible" because "the negative consequences emerging from this are bigger than five Siloviye Mashiny deals," Chubais said, the newspaper reported. It is "a matter of state honor" to complete the transaction. (Bloomberg)

EU to Boost Polish Pipeline

WARSAW -- The European Commission will grant 2 million euros ($2.7 million) to help extend Ukraine's Odessa-Brody pipeline to the Polish cities of Plock and Gdansk, the newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza reported, citing a commission representative, Faouzi Bensarsa.

The project to extend the pipeline, which would ship Caspian oil to Poland, should be ready by the end of this year, the newspaper said.

Building a 490-kilometer Brody-Plock link may cost about 500 million euros, according to Alexander Todiyczuk, an adviser to the Ukrainian secretary of state. The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank are interested in the project, he said, Gazeta reported. (Bloomberg)

Caspian Stake Deadline Set

Kazakhstan will decide by March 30 whether to buy half of BG Group's stake in a project to tap a Caspian Sea deposit that is the world's largest oil discovery in the past 30 years.

Kazakhstan, the second-largest oil producer among the former Soviet states, values the 8.33 percent it may buy in the Kashagan project at about $600 million, Kazakh Energy Minister Vladimir Shkolnik told reporters in Moscow on Monday.

Other partners in the Caspian Sea project, which is led by Italy's Eni, will share the other half of BG's stake.

The Kashagan group will develop the field under a production-sharing agreement and will retain a share of the output to recover their investments. (Bloomberg)

Turkey OKs Tupras Sale

ISTANBUL, Turkey -- Turkey's Competition Board approved the government's planned sale of a 51 percent stake in the state-controlled Tupras Turkiye Petrol Rafinerileri, the newspaper Hurriyet reported, without saying where it got the information.

Turkey plans to sell Tupras, the nation's biggest oil refiner, to an industry investor in April, Hurriyet said.

Citigroup, which will handle the Tupras sale, is currently meeting with potential local and foreign buyers, the daily said. (Bloomberg)

UTair to Buy Foreign Jets

Tyumen-based UTair airline plans to buy two ATR-42-320 airplanes from U.S.-based Continental Airlines, UTair said in a press release Monday.

Continental is expected to supply the planes by June, according to the press release.

The value of the contract was not disclosed.

The ATR-42-320s are to be used on routes for which the company currently uses An-24s and Yak-40s, the company said. (Prime-Tass)

$1.5Bln Jewelry Sales in '05

Total jewelry sales in Russia are expected to increase to 42 billion rubles ($1.5 billion) in 2005 from 34 billion rubles in 2004, Valery Radashevich, general director of the Russian Jewelers' Guild, said Friday.

In 2003, jewelry sales stood at 28 billion rubles, he said.

He attributed the expected increase to the shrinking of Russia's "gray" jewelry market, as well as the unstable exchange rate of the dollar. People prefer to invest their money in gold, he added.

In 2005, jewelry production from gold is expected to total 78.5 tons, up from 64.5 tons, while jewelry production from silver is expected to increase to 109 tons from 82.7 tons. (Prime-Tass)

$1.8Bln Novolipetsk Profit

Steel major Novolipetsk said Monday that its 2004 net profit more than doubled to 49.8 billion rubles ($1.81 billion) mainly due to high steel prices.

Revenues jumped to 126.1 billion rubles from 75 billion in 2003, it said. The numbers were to Russian accounting standards.

Last year the company raised rolled steel production by 4 percent to 8.6 million tons as the sector continued to boom on strong demand from China. (Reuters)

Kemerovo '05 Coal Output

The coal output of companies based in the Kemerovo region, the country's major coal-producing area, is expected to rise 5.9 percent on the year to 168 million tons in 2005, the regional administration reported Monday, citing the region's fuel and energy department.

Investment in coal production in the region is projected at 30 billion rubles in 2005, up from 22 billion rubles in 2004, the administration said.

This year, six coal-producing facilities, with a combined annual capacity of more than 5 million tons, are to be launched, it said. (Prime-Tass)

Sibneft No. 1 Baltic Shipper

LONDON -- Sibneft, Russia's fifth-biggest oil producer, was the biggest charterer of tankers shipping crude from the Baltic Sea last year, Geneva-based shipbrokers Riverlake Shipping said.

Sibneft shipped 8.3 million tons of crude, accounting for 12.8 percent of the Baltic Sea's shipments, Riverlake said in a March 11 report. Petroval, the Geneva-based oil-trading unit of Yukos, was second with 7.5 million tons.

The five Baltic ports -- including Russia's Primorsk -- exported 65 million tons of crude on Aframax tankers last year, just over a third more than in 2003, Riverlake said. Primorsk, where shipments more than doubled, accounted for almost 60 percent of the total. Tallinn, Estonia, was No. 2 with 16 percent. (Bloomberg)

$500M Tallinn Expansion

LONDON -- Estonia's Port of Tallinn plans to invest 371 million euros ($498 million) in the next five years to expand services and almost double loading capacity.

Loading may rise to 60 million tons a year of cargo, up from 37.4 million tons loaded last year, said Diina Niitane, a senior specialist at the port. Crude oil and oil product cargoes account for 72 percent of volume, mostly transited from Russia, Kazakhstan or Belarus for export. (Bloomberg)