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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rosneft Considers Fuel Plant in South Africa

State-run oil company Rosneft is considering whether to build a plant to manufacture liquid fuel from natural gas after holding talks with South African producers, Sasol and PetroSA.

Rosneft has visited facilities owned by Sasol, the world's largest coal-to-­motor fuel producer, spokesman Nikolai Manvelov said in a telephone interview Friday from Moscow. Sasol will start shipping fuel from the Qatar's Oryx ­facility, the world's largest gas-to-fuels plant, later this month.

The Natural Resources Ministry said earlier Friday that Rosneft, Sasol and PetroSA were planning to build a gas-to-liquid plant in Russia, without giving other details. Near-record oil prices have spurred interest in Sasol's technology to convert coal and gas into fuel. The company plans to build new plants in the United States, China and Australia.

"We're interested in the possibility, but they're putting the cart before the horse," Manvelov said. "It's too early to talk about any concrete details or whether we'll work with Sasol and ­PetroSA."

Russian companies are investing in refining capacity to boost earnings on surging demand for fuels. President Vladimir Putin earlier this month urged business leaders to invest in processing industries to replace raw materials ­exports with higher valued-added ­products.

Natural Resource Minister Yury Trutnev Thursday began a five-day visit to South Africa, Angola and Namibia with Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov.

PetroSA, South Africa's national oil and gas company, denied that the companies have an agreement.

"We had high-level talks with ­Rosneft about a year ago, but that came to nothing," said Willem de Meyer, vice president of new ventures at Cape Town, South Africa-based PetroSA.

Sasol spokesman Johann van Rheede and spokeswoman Marina Bidoli were not immediately available for comment.

Sasol, which uses technology first designed by World War II Nazi scientists and refined by South African engineers during apartheid, is scouring gas-rich countries including Russia, Iran and Australia for opportunities to build plants.

Sasol plans to produce 500,000 barrels per day of fuels made from gas at three or four plants in the next decade. The Qatar plant will initially produce 34,000 barrels a day.

Sasol helped build the Mossgas gas-to-fuels plant at Mossel Bay off South Africa's south coast in 1992. The plant uses Sasol's proprietary Fischer-Tropsch technology and is owned Petrosa.

The 30 percent climb of oil over the past three years has made costly gas-to-fuels projects more viable. Shell is the only other company to have built a commercial gas-to-fuel plant at Bintulu off the Malaysian coast.

n Russia's Silver Wave Sputnik Petroleum Pte has signed a deal with Myanmar's state-owned Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise, or MOGE, to explore and produce oil and gas in onshore B-2 block, official newspapers reported in Myanmar on Saturday, Reuters said.

The production sharing agreement was signed by MOGE Managing Director U Myint Kyi, Energy Minister for the Kalmykia Republic Boris Chedyrov and Silver Wave Energy chairman Min Min Aung, the Myanma Ahlin newspaper ­reported.