Gazprom against private companies' access to Arctic shelf

1/15/2013

Gazprom against private companies' access to Arctic shelf

MOSCOW--The chief executive of Russia's OAO Gazprom said the state-owned natural gas monopoly doesn't want the government to allow development of the country's largely untapped Arctic shelf gas fields by private energy companies, Russian agencies report Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters at the Arctic city of Novy Urengoi, Alexei Miller said the company won't provide the state with the licenses for the offshore fields it is not interested in.

Only state-controlled companies, among them OAO Rosneft  and Gazprom, are allowed to hold offshore licenses.

The issue of whether state or privately-owned companies should be allowed to develop the potentially huge resources on Russia's shelf has been simmering for some time. Non-state firms such as OAO Lukoil Holdings (LKOH.RS), Russia's second-largest crude oil producer, have long pushed for permission to be involved.

Russia's natural resources ministry proposed Tuesday that offshore oil and gas fields on the country's Arctic shelf that aren't wanted by state-controlled firms should be explored and developed by non-state companies.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev last August called for the government's shelf development plan to be reworked but the new plan has been delayed due to reported opposition from Gazprom and Rosneft over allowing non-state firms to own offshore licenses.

Oil giant Rosneft last year signed long-term deals with Exxon Mobil Corp., Eni SpA and Statoil ASA to develop offshore oil and gas reserves.

Meanwhile, Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said Tuesday that Rosneft may shortly get 12 licenses at the Arctic shelf and Gazprom could receive 17.

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