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Exxon’s denies Sakhalin exports delayed

Exxon Mobil Corp. on Monday denied a Russian news agency report that oil exports from the Sakhalin-1 project might be delayed and said they were on track to begin by August.

The Interfax news agency had earlier in the day quoted Lev Brodsky, an official from state oil firm Rosneft -- Exxon's partner in the 250,000 barrels per day project -- as saying the exports could be delayed to October.

"The report is wrong," said Exxon spokesman Bob Davis. "The first lifting from Sakhalin-1 will be in August on schedule."

Sakhalin-1 is the biggest new oil find in the area in many years and will add new supply to a tightly stretched global market, potentially bringing down high physical crude prices in the region and displacing sales of competing African and Mediterranean oils into Asia.

Trading sources had also told Reuters last week that the project would export its first crude oil cargo in mid-August. The sources said the first export cargo was due to arrive at a refinery run by Japan's TonenGeneral Sekiyu KK, 50 percent owned by Exxon, in mid-August.

A second cargo has been allocated to Japanese consortium Sodeco, but it is not clear which of Sodeco's shareholders will market the cargo.

Exxon Mobil has a 30-percent stake in Sakhalin 1. Japan's Sodeco holds another 30 percent, while India's Natural Gas Corp. has 20 percent. The rest is held by state-run Russian oil company Rosneft.

Production from Chayvo field -- one of three being developed under the Sakhalin 1 project -- began in early October.

The Sakhalin 1 partners said at the time they hoped to launch exports by mid-2006 after the completion of a key pipeline. Previously, some project officials had said exports would begin in early 2006.

© Reuters

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