28 Sep 2009 13:23

Gazprom will develop Kovykta; key question is timeframe

DZHUBGA. Sept 28 (Interfax) - Gazprom will carry out the development of the big Kovykta gas condensate field, but the timeframe for the project remains a key question, CEO Alexei Miller told journalists.

"This is a major gas project. In any case, the question is what the dates for Gazprom to carry it out will be. We have no doubt that this project will be carried out by Gazprom in future," he said.

Gazprom is not in talks with the state on the state's participation in the project. "No talks are being held," Miller said.

Purchase of the stake in RUSIA Petroleum , the holder of the license to Kovykta, is currently being discussed at Gazprom and in the government, TNK-BP co-owner Mikhail Fridman said earlier.

"We intend to sell our stake. Whether the ultimate buyer is Gazprom or the government is not principle for us. The issue of acquiring the stake in Kovykta is currently being discussed between the government and Gazprom," Fridman said.

Gazprom, BP and TNK-BP agreed a deal to sell the Russian gas giant a controlling interest in Kovykta two years ago. However, negotiations on the details of the deal bogged down and were further complicated by the boardroom battle that erupted between the two TNK-BP shareholder groups. Gazprom finally lost interest in the property with the onset of the global financial crisis.

Two years ago subsurface resource use agency Rosnedra considered revoking RUSIA's license to the field for failing to deliver 9 billion cubic meters for the needs of Irkutsk region in 2006 as stipulated in the licensing agreement. However, RUSIA argued that it was ready to extract and deliver those volumes but that the region did not have demand for that much gas.