24 Jun 2009 17:03

Putin upbeat about Total's prospects in Russia

MOSCOW. June 24 (Interfax) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he was positive about the prospects for France's Total to increase its presence in Russia.

"I've no doubt that contacts between us are not only lasting but very substantial," Putin said at a meeting with the chief executives of Total and Russian gas producer NOVATEK , Christophe de Margerie and Leonid Mikhelson, respectively.

Total "is involved in the development of the Shtokman field, one of the biggest European projects,' Putin said.

Putin said at the meeting that Total could be involved in Phase Two of the Shtokman project. "There is a proposal for Total to do more business in Russia. This is quite possible. If the company wants to participate in further stages of the Shtokman project, we are ready to consider this," Putin said.

Total's de Margerie said Total would be prepared to participate in future stages "if we are invited."

Total continues to work at the Kharyaga field, and it and NOVATEK plan to participate in the development of a major gas condensate field, Termokarstovoye, on the Yamal Peninsula, Putin said.

"It's a good project, and there's a lot of investment there - around $900 million," Putin said. The project's first phase will cost $20 million, he said.

The field has very good prospects. It and the sections adjacent to it could "expand in time," Putin said. "Future expansion could mean the field is classified as a field of national importance," he said.

But Russia allows foreign investors into fields like this, Putin said. "True, you need a decision by a special government commission, but if at this stage you are going to be involved in work like this and you are going to invest in it, then of course we'll take this into account when reaching our decision," Putin said.

Termokarstovoye is promising also because NOVATEK has its own processing capacity there, Putin said.

"The very fact we are meeting today suggests that we will of course be backing projects like this," Putin said.

The field has proven reserves of 24.648 billion cubic meters gas and 4.627 million tonnes condensate.

Total's de Margerie also said his company was interested in the Yamal LNG project.

He said he had discussed this with Gazprom . Gazprom chief Alexei Miller said at the meeting that management would soon be looking at a project to build the Yamal LNG plant and that Japanese companies, Shell, BP and others had expressed an interest in this.