22 Dec 2010 19:09

Proposals for Rosneft investors to take shape soon - Sechin

CHERYOMUSHSKI, KHAKASIA. Dec 22 (Interfax) - Rosneft thinks proposals for potential strategic investors could take shape soon, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, who chairs the oil producer's board of directors, told Interfax.

"Talks are being held every day, literally every day, and I think we'll formalize some proposals fairly quickly," Sechin said.

Sechin did not say precisely when proposals might take shape, as this depends not just on Rosneft but also on those it is talking to. "This isn't a simple matter after all. There's a mass of shareholders, public companies, they have to discuss these things, work things out, look at the economics. There aren't straightforward issues at all," he said.

Asked what companies Rosneft might hold negotiations with, Sechin said: "You could take a list of the biggest oil and gas companies and you wouldn't be wrong if you said Rosneft carrying the corresponding work out."

The search for a strategic investor for Rosneft is a "complex issue," Sechin said. An asset swap is possible, but also "there are financial investors, portfolio investors," he said.

Regarding foreigner access to oil and gas reserves, Sechin said: "I want to ask you this - is there anybody else who is giving us access to their own resources just like that? Nobody is showing any particular enthusiasm." Not one Russian company operates in the Gulf of Mexico, for example, where there are "decent reserves." "We could work in other places," Sechin said, adding that Russian companies like Gazprom Neft , Lukoil , Rosneft and Gazprom had experience of offshore work.

Gazprom is working offshore Venezuela, but conditions there are difficult, he said.

Asked whether access to foreign reserves would be a condition for becoming a strategic investor in Rosneft, Sechin said: "I'm not talking about Rosneft specifically. I'm saying that in general, we need to move towards two-way traffic, so we have the opportunity to buy assets abroad."

Foreign shareholders own around a quarter of the Russian oil and gas sector. "And look what assets our companies own abroad - they're negligible," he said. Russian companies own less than 1% of overseas assets, he said.

"Look what happened to Surgutneftegas , which bought 21.2% of [Hungary's] MOL. Right out of the blue we're seeing unlawful actions to seize assets," he said. "We'll definitely be helping [Surgutneftegas to resolve the issue with MOL]," he said, adding this was a Russian company, with pension funds among its shareholders, and that the deal to buy MOL was an "absolutely market" one.

The government sold a first 15% of Rosneft in an IPO in 2006, and plans to sell another 15% on the open market by 2015 and to use 10% minus one share for asset swaps with investors. Rosneft's management thinks 2014-2015 would be the best time to bring a foreign strategic investor into the company.