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Gazprom to pick another partner for Shtokman by mid October

Gazprom plans to pick another partner in a project to develop the Shtokman natural gas field in the Arctic, a top manager of the Russian energy giant said Tuesday.

Speaking at an Arctic oil and gas conference in St. Petersburg, Valery Golubev said: “The decision will be made in the near future, in September or by mid-October.” The natural gas monopoly has so far invited France’s Total to join in the ambitious $30-billion project to develop the Barents Sea field, with estimated gas reserves of 3.7 trillion cubic meters, designed to supply the Nord Stream pipeline from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea. “We could expand the number of partners in the [charter] capital of the [operator] company. About 24% could be allocated to a new partner,” Golubev said. Golubev said the company has made up a shortlist of five companies that could be involved in the offshore project, but did not give further details.

Under a July agreement with Gazprom, Total has a 25% stake in the operator, which will own the infrastructure, including production facilities, pipelines and an LNG plant for 25 years, with the Russian monopoly holding a 75% share. Gazprom’s share would shrink to 51% if a third partner emerged. Another Gazprom manager, Alexander Ananenkov, earlier said the company would only work with foreign partners in the first phase of the project, and would carry out the second and third phases on its own. Gas production estimated at 23.7 billion cu. m. and supplies are planned to be launched by 2013, liquefied gas production and supplies are scheduled to start in 2014 as part of the first phase.

Last year, Gazprom turned down Shtokman partnership offers from Total, US ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil, and Norway’s Norsk Hydro and Statoil, and company CEO Alexei Miller said Russia would develop the field alone. Golubev said in St. Petersburg that by 2030 Gazprom plans to raise output at Shtokman to 100 billion cu m a year. “By late 2009 or early 2010, we are expecting to start construction,” Yury Komarov, the general director of Sevmorneftegaz, the Gazprom subsidiary running the project, told reporters after the conference. Komarov said the project feasibility study would be completed late this year and the site would start to be prepared in the second half of 2008. He also said a site for the LNG plant would be selected in November. Komarov also said contracts for tankers to deliver liquefied gas would be allocated in 2009. (