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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gas Trader Starts Asset Expansion

RosUkrEnergo, the gas trader that has a monopoly on Russian sales to Ukraine, bought nearly 75 percent of Astrakhan Oil and Gas for an undisclosed amount, Vedomosti reported Thursday, citing Astrakhan region officials.

The deal marks the start of an asset expansion by the trader, which is co-owned by Ukrainian businessman Dmitry Firtash and Gazprom, and may be worth at least $500 million, the paper said.

Firtash met with Astrakhan Governor Alexander Zhilkin and several executives of the company to broker the deal, which went through last month, Kommersant reported. The Astrakhan region retained a 25 percent plus 1 share in the oil and gas firm.

Astrakhan Oil and Gas owns the Astrakhan deposit that holds close to 220 billion cubic meters of gas and 20 million tons of oil. Firtash is also considering building a gas processing plant with a 6 billion-cubic-meter processing capacity in the Astrakhan region, Kommersant said.

Astrakhan Oil and Gas was set up in 2000 by the region's administration and a number of companies, but it has not yet started production.

Firtash recently announced himself as a 90 percent owner of Austrian-registered Centrogas, which holds a 50 percent stake in RosUkrEnergo. Ukrainian businessman Ivan Fursin owns the other 10 percent in the Austrian firm.