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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Kashagan on Target

ASTANA, Kazakhstan -- Kazakhstan said Friday that it did not expect delays in the startup of the huge, Eni-led Kashagan oil field to extend beyond 2010, following reports that the $15 billion project could be pushed back to 2011 or 2012.

"The deadline for the start of commercial production still remains 2010," said Chingis Mukhanov, spokesman for Kazakh Energy Minister Baktykozha Izmukhambetov. (Reuters)

Sukhoi Sales to Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Malaysia's air force said Friday that it expected to receive six Sukhoi-30MKM fighter jets in May -- the first batch of 18 jets it purchased in 2003.

"It is anticipated that the first batch of Sukhoi-30MKMs will be officially handed over to the Malaysian government in April 2007 in Russia, with the physical arrival in the country beginning May," the Royal Malaysian Air Force said in a statement. (AP)

Nursultan Reserves Rise

ASTANA, Kazakhstan -- Kazakhstan may raise its estimate of oil reserves held in the Nursultan block of the Caspian Sea, a move delaying a final decision on to whom to award exploration rights for the field, the country's oil minister said Friday.

Shell has been in competition with U.S. oil major ConocoPhillips to win exploration rights for the block, close to Kuryk, where oil-rich Kazakhstan plans to build a port. (Reuters)

Ascopiave Eyes Gas Line

MILAN, Italy -- Italian gas company Ascopiave is considering a project with two partners for an alternative pipeline to the existing TAG line to bring gas from Eastern Europe to Italy, its chairman said Friday.

Ascopiave's Gildo Salton also told reporters that the northeast Italy-based utility was in touch with nearby peers about possible alliances. The 380-kilometer Trans Austria Gasleitung pipeline carries gas from Russia through Austria to Italy, Croatia and Slovenia. (Reuters)

RusAl Smelter Plans

KRASNOYARSK -- RusAl, which produces about 10 percent of the world's aluminum, expects to complete construction of a new smelter in the Irkutsk region of Siberia in 2009, adding 750,000 tons of capacity.

Pavel Ulyanov, RusAl's deputy general director for corporate strategy and development, said Friday that the company would invest $2 billion in the Taishet smelter. (Reuters)

Mozyr Refinery Repair

LONDON -- Belarus' Mozyr refinery is set to take several middle distillate-making units off line for maintenance starting September, a company source said Friday.

The maintenance work, which usually lasts about a month, is set to include work on the plant's diesel-making hydrocracker, a vacuum distillation unit, and a reformer. The VDU turns heavy oil residues into feedstocks that are converted into higher value fuels such as diesel fuel. (Reuters)

Yara, Gazprom Supply Deal

OSLO -- Norwegian fertilizers group Yara said Friday that it had entered a gas supply deal with Gazprom for the deliveries to its ammonia and urea plant in Le Havre in France.

"The agreement is significant for Yara as it opens up for more flexible and competitive natural gas supply and pricing in Europe," Yara International said in a statement.

The deal with Gazprom represents Yara's first direct purchase of Russian gas and it enables the group to source gas more competitively and flexibly in Europe, Yara said. (Reuters)

Rail Bans to Delay Coal

LONDON -- A temporary ban on rail transport of coal to several Russian and Baltic ports by rail monopoly RZD could delay up to 900,000 tons of prompt coal shipments, Russian coal exporters said Friday.

The arrival of coal frozen in rail wagons has caused serious congestion on rail lines to several ports, they said. RZD has stopped coal rail transport until the congestion eases, they said. Rail transport of coal has been halted to the Russian port of Murmansk since Feb. 3, but the suspension has since been extended to other ports. (Reuters)

Capital Flight Concern

KIEV -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko expressed concern on Friday over capital flight from the ex-Soviet state, saying it increased the risks of inflation and currency instability.

Yushchenko, chairing a meeting of the National Defence and Security Council, urged the government to improve the investment climate and business environment in Ukraine. He said capital outflow reached $12.9 billion in January to September 2006. It compares with an investment inflow of $13.2 billion. (Reuters)

Rusfinance Places Bond

Rusfinance Bank, a Russian subsidiary of France's Societe Generale, fully placed a three-year, 4 billion ruble ($152 million) bond at auction on Friday, market data showed.

The annual coupon rate was set at auction at 7.74 percent, the bank said. An official at Troika Dialog, the issue organizer, said the demand for the bond amounted to 6.28 billion rubles ($239.4 million). (Reuters)

Vimpelcom Worry on 3G

Second-ranked mobile phone company Vimpelcom is at a disadvantage in the auction for 3G licenses in Russia because of old enmities with the Telecommunications Ministry, chief executive Alexander Izosimov said Friday.

Russia outlined the terms for 3G licenses in December, kick-starting a tender process that ends next month. Companies will have to pay a fee of about $50,000, convert frequencies for civil use and answer questions on coverage. (Reuters)

Integra IPO Oversubscribed

The London public share offering of Russian oil services firm Integra has been more than two times oversubscribed and is likely to be priced in the higher part of the range, a source close to the IPO said Friday.

Integra is seeking a value of between $1.5 and $1.9 billion when it prices the IPO on Feb 22. The fast-growing firm, set up less than three years ago, has said it needs the money to fund expansion and challenge giants such as Halliburton as the Russian oil services business grows alongside oil and gas production. (Reuters)

Norilsk Increases Loan

LONDON -- Norilsk Nickel, the world's biggest nickel producer, has increased its five-year loan to $450 million from $300 million after the deal closed oversubscribed in syndication, a banking source said Friday.

Mandated lead arrangers Barclays, ING and Societe Generale CIB are expected to sign banks into the deal before the end of February. (Reuters)

Axel Springer Sale Rumor

German media company Axel Springer denied on Friday a Russian newspaper report that it was in talks with several companies to sell its Russian subsidiary, Axel Springer Russia.

Kommersant said the Hamburg-based media group, which publishes Germany's best-selling Bild daily, wanted to swap Axel Springer Russia for a stake in a major Russian publishing house. Quoting sources, Kommersant said Springer was in talks with Finland's Sanoma --the parent company of The Moscow Times -- which owns Independent Media, Hachette Filipacchi Shkulev Publishing House and UFG Private Equity, which owns 49 percent of Zhizn newspaper. (Reuters)