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Lukoil to buy Conoco stations, bid for Czech refinery

OAO Lukoil, Russia's largest oil producer, plans to buy 376 filling stations in Europe from shareholder ConocoPhillips and may buy shares in a Czech refinery as it expands retailing and refining.

With ConocoPhillip's fuel stations, Lukoil will enter the Belgian, Czech and Slovak markets and grow in Poland, Hungary and Finland, the Russian company said on its Web site. The company will increase sales of oil products by 1.4 million tons, or 19%, next year. Lukoil aims to more than double its company value to as much as $200 billion by 2016. It wants to expand outside of Russia and increase its refining capacity and retail sales as well as raise output to boost profit. Lukoil also plans to bid for a stake in Ceska Rafinerska AS, a refinery owned 51 percent by the Czech Republic's Unipetrol AS, Interfax reported, citing Lukoil Deputy CEO Leonid Fedun.

ConocoPhillips, Eni SpA and Royal Dutch Shell Plc own the rest of the refinery. Unipetrol, which is controlled by Poland's PKN Orlen AS, said last month it is interested in increasing its stake and has the right of first refusal to ConocoPhillips' shares. Lukoil plans to increase refining capacity to 100 million tons of oil a year from 58 million tons a year in 2005, according to the company's presentation before a planned bond sale. The company plans to add 13 million to 16 million tons of capacity in Europe and enter Asia and the Americas, with 10 million to 20 million tons of refining capacity by 2016. Lukoil will offer 14 billion rubles ($535 million) worth of bonds on December 14 to reduce bank borrowing under its 2006 debt program. (Bloomberg)