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Transneft proposes $5 bln Eurobond to pay Caspian pipeline debt

Russia's state-controlled pipeline operator Transneft has proposed shareholders in the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) issue $5 billion in Eurobonds to repay the consortium's debts, a Transneft vice-president said Wednesday. 

Sergei Grigoryev declined to specify parameters for the issue, saying Transneft had only made the proposal at the shareholder meeting Wednesday to help restructure the Caspian Pipeline Consortium's debt of about $5 billion. The CPC shareholders will examine the proposal and make a decision within 10-14 days, he said. The Caspian Pipeline Consortium system, designed to pump Russian and Kazakh oil to a terminal on the Black Sea, was commissioned in October 2001 and its current capacity is 30 million metric tons (220 million barrels) of crude per year. Transneft holds a 24% stake in the CPC under a trust agreement with the Russian government.

Apart from Russia, the CPC's shareholders are Kazakhstan, which has a 19% stake, and the Sultanate of Oman with 7%. The consortium also includes private companies such as Chevron Caspian Pipeline Consortium Company (15.0%), LUKARCO B.V. (12.5%), Rosneft-Shell Caspian Ventures Limited (7.5%), Mobil Caspian Pipeline Company (7.5%), BG Overseas Holding Limited (2.0%), Agip International (N.A.) N.V. (2.0%), Kazakstan Pipeline Ventures LLC (1.75%), and Oryx Caspian Pipeline LLC (1.75%). Grigoryev said shareholders also discussed Transneft's proposal to raise oil transit rates from $24.6 to $38 per metric ton, but according to preliminary information decided against it.

The CPC project stipulates an increase in the pipeline's capacity to 67 million metric tons (491 million barrels) per year but not all project members believe this is commercially effective. Semyon Vainshtok, the Transneft head, said in March that the CPC was sustaining losses and called for higher oil transit tariffs to reverse the situation. (