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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Ruble Inches Up

The ruble was a shade firmer against the dollar on Tuesday, recovering from the previous day's three-month lows, with dealers saying they were untroubled by a tweak to the Central Bank's currency basket.

On Monday, the Central Bank announced that it had, as expected, upped the euro share in the basket with which it guides the ruble day-to-day to 0.3 and correspondingly shaved the dollar share to 0.7. (Reuters)

$10Bln for Shtokman Field

Gazprom and Norway's Statoil may agree to work together at the Shtokman gas field in the Arctic, which needs $10 billion in investments to ship fuel to the United States.

Statoil CEO Helge Lund will meet Gazprom head Alexei Miller in Moscow on Wednesday for talks on the development of the offshore field, which has enough to fuel all of North America for almost four years.

Gazprom said it plans to select as many as three partners for the project in the second half of this year. Statoil seeks 20 percent of Shtokman and is competing with larger rivals such as Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch/Shell Group and ConocoPhillips to develop the field. (Bloomberg)

OMV to Invest $338M

OMV, central Europe's biggest oil company, will invest about 260 million euros ($338.5 million) to expand its pipelines in Austria after signing a contract with Gazprom to boost gas transport to Germany through OMV pipelines.

OMV has been transporting natural gas from Russia for almost 40 years to meet rising Western European demand. About a third of all Russian gas exports go through Austria, via a pipeline that runs from Slovakia to the German border near Burghausen, according to OMV.

The contract starts in 2007 and lasts for 20 years. Gazprom will export about 4.4 billion cubic meters a year, it said. (Bloomberg)

Gazprom in Latvian Deal

Gazprom said it acquired a 9 percent stake in Latvia's gas company from Itera for $58 million.

Gazprom in January 2005 raised its stake in Latvijas Gaze to 34 percent plus one share, the company said in a prospectus for its bond offering dated May 15. (Bloomberg)

Gazprom Eyes Rival's Field

Gazprom said Tuesday its board approved plans to take back a gas field from Northgas, an independent producer, escalating a legal battle that threatens to cripple Northgas's production capacity.

"The board approved the process of re-establishing corporate control over Northgas," including the right to develop the Severo-Urengoi gas and gas condensate field, Gazprom said on Tuesday.

A Moscow court stripped Northgas of a license to tap the gas field in northern Siberia in the middle of April, after Gazprom filed a petition to overturn a 1994 Natural Resources Ministry decision to split the field between the two companies. (Bloomberg)

Gazprom in $1Bln Payout?

Gazprom plans to pay shareholders 28.2 billion rubles ($1 billion) in dividends for 2004, based on a payout of 1.19 rubles a share proposed on Tuesday by the company's board.

Gazprom shareholders will vote on the dividend at the annual meeting on June 24, the company said.

Gazprom had 23.67 billion ordinary shares outstanding as of June 30 last year. (Bloomberg)

Novatek Q1 Profit Doubles

Novatek said first-quarter profit more than doubled as the company sold more fuel amid higher prices.

Net income rose to 2.37 billion rubles ($84.7 million) from 1.09 billion rubles a year earlier, Novatek said Tuesday.

Novatek sold 6.8 billion cubic meters of natural gas in the first quarter, up from 4.2 billion cubic meters in the same period of 2004. Sales of gas condensate and oil products rose to 785,000 tons from 752,000 tons. (Bloomberg)

Dutch Oil Exports Up 40%

Dutch crude oil imports from Russia rose about 40 percent in 2004 as the Netherlands took advantage of cheaper oil supplies to reduce its reliance on imports from the U.K., the government statistics bureau said.

The Netherlands imported about 15 million metric tons of crude oil from Russia in 2004. Total crude oil imports increased about 7 percent to 52 million tons from about 48 million tons a year earlier and cost almost 11 billion euros ($13.9 billion).

Russia has replaced the Britain as the most important supplier of crude oil to the Netherlands. (Bloomberg)

RZD's Oil Export Plan

Russian Railways, or RZD, may double oil shipments to China following modernization of a railroad in Eastern Siberia.

RZD may ship as much as 70 million tons a year to China following modernization of a link between Karymskaya and Zabaikalsk stations, the transporter said in a statement Tuesday.

The railway monopoly plans to invest as much as 30 billion rubles ($1.1 billion) on railways in East Siberia to help increase oil shipments from the region to Asian countries. (Bloomberg)

OKA Maker Sold

AvtoVAZ has sold SeAZ, a maker of the diminutive OKA car, to Samara-based Avtokom, Interfax reported Tuesday, without providing details of the deal.

The OKA, a boxy model which is often customized for disabled drivers, is Russia's cheapest model at about $3,000. SeAZ, based in Moscow region, is planning to optimize expenses and may launch a new model, a SeAZ representative told Interfax.

Last year, SeAZ assembled 19,000 cars, compared with some 20,000 cars in 2003. The OKA is also manufactured by KamAZ. (MT)

EBRD's First Ruble Bond

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, or EBRD, will issue its first ruble bond for 5 billion rubles ($178.4 million) on Wednesday, which will mature in 2010, ING bank said Tuesday.

The bond will pay an annual interest rate of 4.04 percent for the first coupon period.

ING is acting as a calculation agent for the bond sale. (Reuters)

RusAl Raises $200M Loan

Russian Aluminum, or RusAl, said Tuesday that it had raised a $200 million unsecured loan to refinance the purchase of a 20 percent stake in Australia's Queensland Alumina, or QAL.

The loan has been extended by Paris-based Natexis Banques Populaires for 12 months.

RAL bought the stake in QAL, the world's top producer of alumina, an intermediate product for aluminum smelting, for $401 million last March. (Reuters)

Mezhprombank Eurobond

Mezhprombank is planning to issue a $150 million to $200 million eurobond this year, the bank's president told a news conference on Tuesday.

The bank had planned a $200 million issue last year but decided market conditions were not favorable.

Mezhprombank is one of the top thirty banks in Russia. (Reuters)

Volgotanker Accident

Shipper Volgotanker said that one of its ships with Tatneft's gasoil hit a bridge in St. Petersburg. No oil was spilled and nobody was injured.

Volgoneft-218, with 4,500 metric tons of fuel, hit the Troitsky bridge support pillar last night, Andrei Kleimyonov, a vice president at Volgotanker, said Tuesday.

Another barge, Volgoneft-205, operated by Admiral shipping company, hit the bridge while carrying 4,500 tons of fuel oil at the same time. (Bloomberg)

Caracas Signs Rifle Deal

Venezuela signed a contract to buy 100,000 Russian rifles, a move U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in March he hoped would not happen because it was bad for the region.

Venezuela bought the AK-103 rifles for $386 each, Defense Minister Jorge Garcia said in a televised speech.

Venezuela will receive 28,000 rifles in October and other shipments in December and March, Garcia said. (Bloomberg)