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Gazprom plans to borrow 10 billion dollars for Sakhalin-2 field

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Russian natural gas monopoly Gazprom is looking to borrow 10 billion dollars to finance construction at Sakhalin-2, the country's largest energy development and from which it recently obtained a 50-per cent stake from Royal Dutch Shell, Interfax reported.

The loan would go towards buying assets from ruined oil major Yukos, according to the news agency's source, whom it identified as 'a source in the banking world.'

'The company is already in talks with banks, and the mandates are to be given out in a month,' the source added.

Gazprom had not yet commented on the reports as of late Tuesday.

Both loans would not be without controversy.

Gazprom reached an agreement with Shell on Sakhalin-2 after months of threatening a closure over environmental violations gave the government-owned company an improved negotiating position.

While Shell had spent some 20 billion dollars in construction that it had hoped to earn back quickly - under the terms of its agreement with Russia, it was not to share fuel sales with the government until after recouping costs - Gazprom would probably not strike a similar deal and would need to come up with the financing otherwise.

Yukos, whose US shareholders have tried to stop Russian government-owned companies from buying up its former assets through American courts, was dismantled in a tax campaign critics call revenge for Khodorkovsky's political ambitions.

Gazprom has already set aside 3.75 billion dollars in its 2007 budget for buying the 20-per cent stake in Gazprom Neft that the monopoly does not already own. That 20 per cent belongs to Yukos.

With a market capitalization of some 300 billion dollars, Gazprom is the world's third-largest corporation.

© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur

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