21 Oct 2009 12:40

Natural Resources Ministry may offer several strategic deposits in 2010

MOSCOW. Oct 21 (Interfax) - The Natural Resources and Ecology Ministry plans to license and offer for use several strategic deposits in 2010.

"We will propose that the government consider sale of strategic fields at auction," Natural Resources and Ecology Minister Yury Trutnev told journalists on Wednesday.

The government will choose the exact mechanism - auctions or tenders - for offering rights to the deposits, he said.

"We are currently preparing the justification for this issue. I believe that it makes sense to talk about major fields," he said.

There is no point in offering the major fields at auction "unsystematically," Trutnev said. "Entire production centers should be formed around them," he said.

Anatoly Ledovskykh, the head of Russian subsurface resource use agency Rosnedra, previously said his agency has drawn up a program for licensing deposits in 2010 that includes the Trebs and Titov fields. The program is being agreed in the Natural Resources Ministry.

The Roman Trebs field (78.12 million tonnes of reserves) and the Anatoly Titov field (132.8 million tonnes) in Nenets autonomous district have been designated strategic. Rosnedra began licensing the sections last fall as it planned to offer them in the first quarter of 2009. Those plans were dropped due to the crisis.

Contenders for the deposits include Rosneft , a joint venture between Lukoil and Gazprom Neft , Zarubezhneft and others.

Under the recently amended law on deposits, the government decides who gets to develop a strategic hydrocarbon deposit, defined as one located on the shelf or containing more than 70 million tonnes of oil or 50 billion cubic meters of gas. The law also applies to deposits of uranium, diamonds, high-purity quartz, yttrium group rare earth metals, nickel, cobalt, tantalum, niobium, beryllium, lithium and platinum group metals, as well as vein gold deposits with reserves in excess of 50 tonnes and copper deposits with reserves of over 500,000 tonnes.