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MOL sees less promise in Makó trough gas exploration project

A gas exploration program Hungary's MOL is involved in with partners in the Makó trough is not as promising as hoped at the start, CEO Zsolt Hernádi said in an interview published on the website of business weekly HVG.

“The full-scale assessment of the final results has not been closed yet.... This is an unconventional exploration program, requiring professional and technological solutions unlike our usual practice. The gas is there, we have known that for thirty years. The problem is we do not know how to bring it up to the surface and whether it is worthwhile to bring it up,” Hernádi told HVG. “If the decision is to not bring it up for the moment, it does not mean we will never bring it up, only that we must not yet do it with the current technology and in today's market climate.”

MOL is involved in the program with ExxonMobil and Denver-based Falcon Oil and Gas. Falcon said at the beginning of November that the initial work program, which involved a $50 million commitment by ExxonMobil and MOL, had been completed.

Hernádi said MOL would not swap its stake in its Croatian unit INA for Russian peer Surgutneftegas's MOL shares.

German business daily Handelsblatt reported earlier that Surgutneftegas would part with its MOL shares if it could have MOL's stake in INA.

Surgutneftegas acquired the 21.2% stake in MOL from Austria's OMV at the end of March. MOL's management called the deal unfriendly and Hungary's president expressed concern about the transaction.

MOL raised its stake in INA to 47.2% in a public-purchase offer in the autumn of 2008. The state of Croatia owns 44.8%.

MOL continues to view Surgutneftegas as a financial -- rather than a strategic -- investor, Hernádi told HVG. (MTI –Econews)