Gazprom expects to finalize the agreement to develop the Shtokman gas field with France’s Total no earlier than in 2009, Prime-Tass reported Thursday.
In July, Gazprom and Total concluded a preliminary agreement to set up a joint venture to develop the Shtokman field.
Under the deal, Total will have a 25 percent interest in the venture. Despite owning the project's infrastructure, the venture will not own the Shtokman license. Gazprom is expected to retain a 100 percent stake in Sevmorneftegaz, the company that holds the Shtokman license.
It is not clear yet what particular functions and rights the venture will have. In June, Gazprom said its Shtokman partners would likely receive part of the field's output.
Meanwhile, Sevmorneftegaz Chief Executive Officer Yury Komarov said earlier this month Gazprom would also decide on selling a 24 percent stake in the venture to a second partner. Komarov said Gazprom was in talks on the project with ConocoPhillips and Norway's Norsk Hydro and Statoil.
The Shtokman field's C1 and C2 reserves are estimated at 3.7 trillion cubic meters of gas and 31 million tons of gas condensate.
Gazprom to increase gas prices for Armenia
Russian gas giant Gazprom plans to gradually raise prices for natural gas supplied to Armenia, Valery Golubev, Gazprom deputy chairman and chairman of the board at ArmRosgazprom, told reporters Wednesday.
"Raising prices abruptly would destroy the economy. They will grow as the economy grows," Golubev was quoted as saying by Russian financial newswires.
Golubev said Russia is to a significant extent subsidizing gas prices for Armenia. The price per 1,000 cubic meters is $110, far below the market price. Most of Europe pays near $230 for 1,000 cu m of gas.
He said only Belarus pays less for gas, but the price for Belarus will grow to $130 per 1,000 cu m next year. The price in Russia will grow as well and will reach $150 per 1,000 cu m by 2011. Gas prices for Armenia will increase in 2009, he said, but did not indicate how much.
Natural gas prices are subsidized through the sale to Gazprom of the fifth block of the Razdan Heat and Power Plant for $248.8 million.
He said $188 million was used to subsidize domestic gas consumers until Dec. 31, 2008.
Golubev said the level of gasification in Armenia is one of the highest in the world and surpasses even Russia.
Yemen launches another oil bidding round
Yemen is launching its fourth international licensing round that will allow foreign companies to bid for offshore fields, Oil Minister Khalid Mahfoud Bahah said.
The Petroleum Exploration & Production Authority, part of the Yemeni Ministry of Oil & Mineral Resources, said only two offshore concessions are under exploration, blocks 15 and 16, which are operated by consortia led by Australia's Oil Search and Korean National Oil Co., respectively, according to Middle East business reports.
Some of the fields present technical challenges, particularly off the Indian Ocean coast.
Bahah has encouraged local companies to participate in the licensing round, though he has also courted existing foreign players such as Canada's Nexen, the country's biggest producer.
Bid rounds in Yemen typically attract smaller oil companies though among the 34 prequalifiers for the third international bid round, staged in 2006, were global heavyweights such as France's Total and Occidental Petroleum.
Closing oil prices, Sept. 14, 3 p.m. London
Brent crude oil: $77.08
West Texas Intermediate crude oil: $79.53