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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Gas OPEC Is Possible

The increasing share of liquefied national gas in the natural gas market, which will rise to about 38 percent by 2020, promotes the creation of a gas OPEC cartel, PricewaterhouseCoopers said in a report last week.

LNG is not transported through pipelines under fixed, long-term contracts but as oil can be delivered in tankers anywhere in the world, making it easier for producers to change prices and customers. PwC expects Russia, Qatar, Algeria, Malaysia and Indonesia to control the natural gas market in the future. (MT)

Afghan Mining Projects

Russia is planning to participate in various projects in Afghanistan, Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported Monday.

In particular, it is interested in gas and gold projects in northern Afghanistan and in exploration of the Ainak copper deposit near Kabul. In November, Russia was one of 13 bidders to explore Ainak, with estimated reserves of 12 million tons of copper --sufficient to capture 2 percent of the world copper market, according to the World Bank. (MT)

TNK-BP Pipeline Spill

A rupture at an oil pipeline run by TNK-BP is endangering water supplies for the southern city of Saratov, said Oleg Mitvol, deputy head of the Natural Resource Ministry's environmental regulator.

Negligence by TNK-BP's local Orenburgneft unit led the 50-year link to rupture Feb. 27, Mitvol said by telephone Monday. At least one ton leaked into the Bolshoi Kinel River, a tributary of the Volga. (Bloomberg)

Rosneft Adds Reserves

KRASNOYARSK -- Rosneft has added new reserves to its already giant Vankor field in eastern Siberia, which is set to become one of the main sources of crude supplies to China.

"We have added some 100 million tons of new reserves on the Vankor field over the past year," Rosneft's head of the Vankor subsidiary, Yevgeny Popov, said during the weekend. (Reuters)

OGK-3 to Keep Proceeds

OGK-3, a power generator selling stock this month, will keep all proceeds rather than share them with other affiliated utilities, after advisers Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs Group said that idea made "no sense."

OGK-3 will use the money raised to cover its 2007 investment program, and any excess will go toward future spending, said a statement by Unified Energy Systems, its parent company, in an e-mail Friday. (Bloomberg)

Alfa Ups VimpelCom Stake

Alfa Group, billionaire Mikhail Fridman's holding company, raised its stake in VimpelCom to 36.9 percent as part of its fight with Telenor for control of Russia's second-largest mobile phone company.

Units of Alfa last week agreed to spend about $115 million exercising options to buy 0.6 percent of VimpelCom's stock, according to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing dated March 3. (Bloomberg)

Vekselberg Eyes Solar Power

Billionaire Viktor Vekselberg plans to invest $1 billion in developing wind and solar power, Kommersant said Monday, citing a Vekselberg spokesman.

Renova Group, Vekselberg's investment vehicle, acquired Energetic Source of Italy, whose units include wind-power producer Vento Energia, for an undisclosed sum, the newspaper said, citing spokesman Andrei Shtorkh. (Bloomberg)

Gas Stations Inspections

The Natural Resources Ministry's environmental agency will conduct checks into thousands of gas stations all over the country to ensure that they are abiding with their license requirements, the agency said in a statement Monday, Interfax reported.

According to preliminary estimates, 40,000 to 50,000 service stations will undergo inspections into their environmental standards, fire safety provisions and fuel storage facilities. (MT)

Sibir Energy Oil Blocks Buy

Sibir Energy, a British-based company that extracts oil in Russia, agreed to pay $50 million for licenses to eight oil blocks in the Khanty-Mansiisk autonomous district of western Siberia.

The so-called Koltogorsky blocks hold 970 million barrels of estimated oil resources, Sibir Energy said in a statement Monday, without identifying the seller. (Bloomberg)

Ramenka's Saglam Resigns

The general director of Ramenka, which operates Migros Turk's supermarkets in Russia, resigned, Vedomosti reported Monday, citing company spokespeople.

Mustafa Saglam, who headed Ramenka's Ramstore chain development in Russia since 2000, will be replaced by Ihsan Usel, the newspaper said, citing Ramstore's spokeswoman Yelena Skalskaya and unidentified press officials at Migros Turk. (Bloomberg)

Celtic Signs Joint Venture

Miner Celtic Resources has signed its second joint venture agreement of the year with Anime Global to develop a copper-and-gold project in Russia, the company said Monday.

Celtic said in a statement that it would complete a feasibility study by mid-2008 at the Tominskoye deposit in Chelyabinsk region. Technical work would be carried out by the engineering subsidiary of Polymetal. (Reuters)

Lingerie Chain Sells Stake

Dikaya Orkhideya, a Russian lingerie retailer, sold a 20 percent stake to an investment fund before an initial public offering planned for 2009, Vedomosti reported Monday.

The Greater Europe Fund, managed by Wermuth Asset Management, paid $50 million for the holding and has an option to buy a further 13 percent stake, president Alexander Fyodorov told the newspaper. (Bloomberg)

Polyus Gains 2 Licenses

Polyus, Russia's biggest gold producer, gained two exploration licenses for areas adjacent to a gold deposit in eastern Siberia that it operates.

Polyus, owned by Mikhail Prokhorov and Vladimir Potanin, obtained licenses to explore the flanks and deeper levels of the Chertovo Koryto, or Devil's Trough, deposit, the company said Monday. The new areas may hold 90 tons of gold under the Russian P2 classification, Polyus said. (Bloomberg)

New Vnukovo Service

Russian Railways will increase the number of express trains running daily between Kievsky Station and Vnukovo International Airport, airport officials said in a statement Monday.

From Monday, an additional service will run to Vnukovo, leaving Moscow at 11 a.m. From March 12, another new service will leave Moscow at 1:38 p.m. The last train to Moscow will leave Vnukovo at 10:12 p.m. In 2006, the airport, the country's third-largest, served more than 5 million passengers. (MT)

Property Tax Questioned

First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Monday that it was unlikely that imposing a property tax on second and third homes would have any effect, Interfax reported.

"There probably would be some sense in introducing it, but circumventing the law would be quite easy," Medvedev said in an online interview. "There would be very little usefulness in attempting to regulate this situation." (MT)

Deripaska Housing Plans

Oleg Deripaska's Glavstroi group plans to build $2 billion of homes on the northwestern outskirts of St. Petersburg, Kommersant reported Thursday, citing the head of the construction company's local unit.

Glavstroi-SPB made the winning bid of 1.77 billion rubles ($38.3 million) at Wednesday's auction of the leases for 437 hectares of land in the Primorsky region of the country's second-largest city, the newspaper said. (Bloomberg)