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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gazprom Takes Control of Oil Unit's Exports

Gazprom will consolidate all its oil and refined products export operations under its top gas export arm Gazprom Export, the firm said in a statement Thursday.

"The decision also involves Gazprom Neft," Gazprom's spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said. He declined further comment.

Gazprom bought Gazprom Neft, previously known as Sibneft, from Roman Abramovich for $13 billion in 2005, but has kept exporting crude and refined products via its trader Siboil. Market players see trading firm Gunvor as the ultimate off-taker and commissioner of Gazprom Neft's exports, as well as handling exports of Rosneft.

Swiss-based Gunvor is often linked to businessman Gennady Timchenko, whom market participants say is a friend of President Vladimir Putin.

Traders were split on Gazprom's decision and its implications for Gunvor.

"I think it is just a technical move as nobody will dare to touch Gunvor," said a trader with a Western major.

"Some people at Gazprom have been trying to get hold of exports for a long time. So at some point Gunvor could see smaller seaborne export volumes. But it still has huge volumes from Rosneft, so I wouldn't worry too much for Gunvor," said a Russian trader.