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Putin may eye career with Gazprom

While Prime Minister Tony Blair remains uncertain about his next career move, Russian President Vladimir Putin may have less uncertainty because industry analysts think he has been long planning his next career move.

“The position of CEO in a multinational oil and gas corporation with a big Russian state's stake is what Putin wants,” Konstantin Simonov, general director of the National Energy Security Fund in Russia and an expert on Russian political and business elites, was cited as saying by MarketWatch. “The elections are next spring. He may be a bit tired. ... He needs to create a spot for himself that he can take after resigning in 2008 and that can be a promotion for him compared to the Russian president status,” Simonov said at a conference on energy security in London's Chatham House Tuesday. “He's currently building his retirement spot at the head of a global player in the world's energy market,” Simonov said.

Gazprom is an ideal candidate. Putin has supported Gazprom's efforts to acquire the best possible terms on its contracts with its European customers as well as former satellite countries such as Ukraine and Belarus. He has also helped work on seeing off potential rivals, such as the dismemberment of Michael Khordokovsky's oil company Yukos, whose assets now belong to Rosneft and Gazprom. Russian gas giant Gazprom said it plans to increase gas production to at least 550 billion-560 billion cubic meters by 2010 to meet demand of the domestic market and comply with export commitments, according to a company report. Gazprom, the world's largest gas producer, also wants to boost production to 580 billion-590 billion cu. m. by 2020, and then to 610 billion 630 billion cu. m. by 2030, Russia's Prime TASS economic news agency said Tuesday. But in order to reach its growth plans, Gazprom will need to use the existing deposits and put new ones into operation. After 2010, deposits located in the Yamal Peninsula and on the Arctic continental shelf will be brought into development, Prime TASS reported. According to a company report, Gazprom plans to use the development of gas resources of East Siberia, Far East, gulfs of Ob and Taz, and the Shtokman deposit to set up several centres of gas production in those regions, Prime TASS said. Gazprom's ambitions also envisage the development of underground gas storages in Russia and abroad.

Senior Iranian and Omani officials secured accords on oil and gas cooperation Tuesday. During Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's two-day visit to Oman, Iran's Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh and Omani Minister of Commerce and Industry Maqbul Bin-Ali Sultan signed a bilateral cooperation that would allow Oman to invest in the development of gas fields in Iran, the construction of a gas pipeline from Iran to Oman, cooperation in production of liquefied natural gas and its sale and development of Hengam joint gas field, IRNA reported. The two sides agreed to set up a joint venture to work on these projects. Iran has also agreed to transfer gas to Oman. Maqbul said Iran will sell Oman approximately 1 billion cubic meters per day, depending on gas quantity in the new gas fields in the Iranian territorial waters. (