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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Trutnev: East Siberia Open to Foreigners

Itar-TassNatural Resources Minister Yury Trutnev
Russia has no plans to limit participation of foreign investors in projects to develop its huge oil and gas fields in eastern Siberia, Natural Resources Minister Yury Trutnev said in an interview published in Vedomosti on Tuesday.

Russia is gearing up to launch a series of tenders in eastern Siberia and the Far East to develop new deposits there.

That is seen as key to future energy industry growth in Russia, the world's top natural gas producer and No. 2 oil exporter whose crude output has stagnated in the past six months following five years of strong growth.

Trutnev had said in February that some of the eastern Siberian tenders may be closed to foreign investors.

But he ruled out any restrictions for foreign investors in his interview with Vedomosti.

"No restrictions are being proposed for eastern Siberia," he said when asked whether foreign firms would be allowed to take part in the development of the region's oil and gas deposits.

"This region needs development. That's why we intend to stimulate the inflow of any kind of capital there," he said.

One major deposit in the area slated for auction later this year is the huge Chayandinskoye oil and gas field where analysts say gas monopoly Gazprom may be a favorite.

Analysts say Gazprom may form a consortium with its merger partner state oil firm Rosneft or Russia's fourth-largest oil firm, Surgutneftegaz, to participate in the tender.

Chayandinskoye has not been included in a list of strategic fields in which Russia says only companies with at least 51 percent Russian ownership may bid under a new draft law on subsoil use, recently submitted by Trutnev.

Trutnev did not specifically comment on Chayandinskoye but said that Gazprom already had enough on its plate.

"In my opinion, Gazprom has today has a lot of resources which it is not exploiting. So its investments should be targeted toward developing its existing fields," the minister said.

Industry analysts say eastern Siberia may contain as much oil as western Siberia, where the former Soviet Union and Russia have been producing the bulk of crude since the 1970s.