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Gazprom sealed an asset swap deal Thursday with Anglo-Dutch energy giant Royal Dutch/Shell
Russia's natural gas monopoly, Gazprom, sealed an asset swap deal Thursday with Anglo-Dutch energy giant Royal Dutch/Shell. Gazprom will receive a 25% share in the Sakhalin II oil and gas project, whose reserves are estimated at a billion barrels of oil and 510 billion cubic meters of natural gas, and Royal Dutch/Shell will retain 30% in Sakhalin II and get a 50% share in the Western Siberian Zapolyarnoye hydrocarbons deposit, the Gazeta daily reported Friday. Therefore, Gazprom has started to build up the assets needed to tap the American and Asia-Pacific natural gas markets. Viktor Ishayev, the governor of Russia's huge eastern Khabarovsk Territory, in effect corroborated Gazprom's strong eastward drive on Thursday by announcing the monopoly was buying the regional government's 47% share in the Sakhalin-Khabarovsk gas pipeline for around $15 million. The move came as part of an effort encouraged by President Vladimir Putin to spend $1 billion of the $7 billion the government paid for a 10.7% stake in Gazprom on expanding Russian national gas networks. Unlike Khabarovsk, Sakhalin is mainly interesting from the export standpoint. Apart from the deal with Royal Dutch/Shell, Gazprom plans to buy 20% in Sakhalin I (estimated 2.3 billion barrels of oil and 480 billion cubic meters of natural gas) from state-owned company Rosneft. Although Rosneft is in no hurry to part with the asset, its debts of more than $22 billion might soon leave it with few other options. Gazprom has repeatedly said it would also bid for the undeveloped Sakhalin III project. The natural gas monopoly has teamed up with LUKoil for the tender, but they will not be the only companies present, as Russian Natural Resources Minister Yury Trutnev said U.S. oil majors ChevronTexaco and ExxonMobil would be given preferences
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