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Gazprom invites foreign Sakhalin II participants to new projects

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Gazprom has invited its new partners in the Sakhalin II energy project - Shell, Mitsui and Mitsubishi - to bid at an auction for undistributed blocks of Sakhalin III, two sources close to the shareholders of Sakhalin Energy, which operates Sakhalin II, said.

In December, following the signing of the deal on Sakhalin II, a Gazprom spokesman said the partners could bid in tenders for other Sakhalin projects, and could use Sakhalin II's infrastructure to carry them out, although he did not elaborate at the time.

It is still unknown when the Sakhalin III fields will be put up for auction, said a representative of the Federal Agency for Management of Mineral Resources. They are not included on the list of fields to be auctioned this year.

A Mitsubishi spokesman said the parties had agreed to participate in joint projects on Sakhalin, but specific projects had not been named.

Shell spokesman Maxim Shub declined to comment on the possibility of his company buying a license for Sakhalin III, but said that Gazprom and his foreign partners were interested in buying both licenses on the island and gas from other Sakhalin projects, including from Sakhalin I, for their LNG plant. To that end, he said, Sakhalin Energy can expand the plant's capacity.

Gas from Sakhalin III can be liquefied at the plant that is now under construction, said Denis Borisov, analyst with the Solid brokerage. By attracting partners, Gazprom will reduce its financial and geological risks inherent in offshore projects, he said.

He estimated the cost of Sakhalin III's undistributed blocks at $1.4-$1.8 billion, while investment in their development will amount to several billions of dollars.

Sakhalin III comprises four blocks - Kirinsky, Veninsky, Aiyashsky and Vostochno-Odoptinsky - in the Sea of Okhotsk. Their forecast recoverable reserves exceed 700 million metric tons of oil and 1.3 trillion cubic meters of gas. Rosneft holds a license for the Veninsky block.

© Vedomosti, a Russian newspaper

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