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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Reserves Rise to $150Bln

Foreign currency and gold reserves rose for a second straight week, after declining from a record $151.8 billion as the government made early repayments on some of its foreign debts in July and August.

Reserves rose to $150.4 billion as of Sept. 2, from $148.2 billion on Aug. 26, the Central Bank said Thursday in a statement. (Bloomberg)

Treasury Bond Sale

The Central Bank on Thursday sold 5.98 billion rubles ($212 million) of OFZ treasury bonds from its portfolio at an average annual yield of 7.08 percent to 2012.

The Central Bank has treasury bonds following a deal to restructure domestic debts, on which the government defaulted in 1998. (Reuters)

Refining Up 7%

Russian refining runs rose 7 percent in July from June as oil firms rerouted more volumes to the domestic market because of high crude oil export duties, Industry and Energy Ministry data showed Thursday.

The move allowed Russian companies to significantly boost output of refined products, with gasoline production largely staying at home, while gas-oil and fuel-oil exports -- which are subject to much lower export duties than crude oil -- soared. (Reuters)

Oil Extraction Tax Cut

The Economic Development and Trade Ministry will propose a cut in the extraction tax at fields pumping low-quality oil so companies can spend the difference to improve the fuel, Kommersant said, citing ministry documents.

Russia is trying to improve the quality of the crude oil it exports after President Vladimir Putin on Aug. 15 said that the price of Urals, Russia's main export blend of crude, was too low on world markets, compared with Brent crude, the paper reported.Tatneft and Bashneft, the companies that produce the lowest-quality oil, would be affected the most by the tax change, Kommersant said. (Bloomberg)

LUKoil Deal in Uzbekistan

TASHKENT -- LUKoil and China's national oil company on Thursday set up a consortium to develop gas fields in Uzbekistan's part of the Aral Sea, LUKoil said in a statement.

The deal was signed in the Uzbek capital Tashkent between LUKoil Overseas, China National Petroleum Corp., Malaysia's Petronas Carigali Overseas, Korea National Oil Corp. and Uzbekistan's national oil and gas company, Uzbekneftegaz, the statement said.

It said the companies were planning to begin work on eight gas condensate field on the Ustyurt plateau in western Uzbekistan next year, after signing a production sharing agreement. (AP)

Gazprom in Venezuela

Venezuela's government assigned two natural gas blocks to Gazprom and one to Chevron on Thursday in a long-awaited bidding round for an offshore gas project. Gazprom paid $15.2 million for one block and $24.8 million for another, Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said. Chevron paid $5.6 million for its block, the Oil Ministry said. (AP)

Rosneft May List on NYSE

Rosneft may list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange after an initial share sale to repay a $7.5 billion loan from U.S. and European banks, the Vedomosti newspaper said, citing a government official who was not identified. Rosneft is willing to meet the disclosure requirements of the New York exchange, which are more stringent that the London exchange, where the company also considered selling shares, Vedomosti said. (Bloomberg)

TNK-BP Debt Strategy

TNK-BP, which is half owned by oil major BP, said on Thursday it had chosen BNP Paribas, Citigroup, CSFB and UBS as arrangers of its $5 billion loan program. "The $5 billion program will become a cornerstone of TNK-BP's borrowing strategy in the coming years," TNK-BP CEO Robert Dudley said in a statement. (Reuters)

Poor Drills Hurt Output

LONDON -- Russia may increase production from its oil fields in western Siberia by the equivalent of 100 billion barrels of crude over their lifetime with improved drilling technology.

Russia is now getting recovery efficiency of as much as 35 percent in the region, Iskander Diyashev, a chief engineer at Sibneft, said Thursday in an interview. (Bloomberg)

Lenenergo Tax Dispute

Lenenergo is suing the St. Petersburg tax authorities, who demanded the utility pay taxes on fees to parent company Unified Energy Systems, a precedent that could strip UES of up to 60 percent of its revenue, Vedomosti reported.

St. Petersburg tax authorities say the fees paid to UES for management services are uncompensated financial aid to the parent company and may not be deducted from taxable profits, Vedomosti reported, citing an unidentified person familiar with the situation. (Bloomberg)

$575M RusAl Loan

Aluminum producer RusAl said on Thursday that it had finalized a $575 million syndicated loan from a number of Western banks to refinance its current debt.The credit -- to be provided in two amortizing tranches for two and five years, respectively -- was organized by ABN AMRO, BNP Paribas, Citigroup and Natexis Banques Populaires, the company said. (Reuters)

Telenor Request Rejected

A U.S. court has rejected a request by Norwegian telecom company Telenor to deprive Alfa of voting rights at a key shareholders' meeting of cell phone firm VimpelCom, a source familiar with the situation said on Thursday.

Alfa and Telenor have long been at odds over Alfa's wish for mobile services firm, VimpelCom, which is listed in the United States, to expand into the Ukrainian market.

Shareholders are to discuss whether VimpelCom should buy small company Ukrainian RadioSystems on Sept. 14.

Telenor took Alfa to court after accusing it of making misstatements in its proposal for VimpelCom, in which they are both minority shareholders, to buy URS. Alfa denies any wrongdoing. (Reuters)

Grain Harvest Falls

Russia had harvested 64.57 million tons of grain by bunker weight by Sept. 6, 1.8 percent less than the 65.75 million brought in by Sept. 7 last year, the Agriculture Ministry said Thursday. (Reuters)

Elevators for Moscow Tower

HELSINKI -- Kone, the world's fourth-biggest elevator and escalator company, said it had won orders from Britain and Russia to supply almost 70 elevators and escalators.

Kone will supply 28 elevators and four escalators for the 56-story Naberezhnaya Tower in Moscow. (Bloomberg)