UPDATE 2-Malaysia's Petronas in Uzbekistan oil-production deal

Wed May 14, 2008 3:14pm BST

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(Adds details, comments from Uzbekneftegaz)

KUALA LUMPUR May 14 (Reuters) - Petronas [PETR.UL] has signed a production-sharing agreement for a group of fields in northern Uzbekistan, the Malaysian state oil firm said on Wednesday.

It also sealed a heads of agreement for a gas-to-liquid (GTL) project in northern Uzbekistan, months after inking pacts for fields in the south.

The production-sharing contract covers the Urga, Kuanish and Akhchalak fields in the northern region of Ustyurt which Uzbekistan had earlier offered to Russia's Gazprom (GAZP.MM).

Petronas Carigali Overseas Sdn Bhd holds 100 percent interest for the development and production of the fields, it said in a statement.

Uzbek state energy firm Uzbekneftegaz has said earlier this week it had ended talks with Gazprom over the fields a year ago after the Russian company said the project, valued at $1.5 billion at the time, was too small for it.

The heads of agreement for the proposed GTL project was signed with Uzbekneftegaz National Holding Co. It calls for Petronas to undertake detailed feasibility studies for the development.

Last December, Petronas signed agreements with Uzbekistan to drill for oil from two blocks in south Uzbekistan.

Petronas Carigali has a 20 percent stake in the Aral Sea production sharing contract, which is at an exploration stage. Other partners in the venture are state-run UzbeknefteGaz, CNPC International Ltd, parent of PetroChina (0857.HK) PTR.n, Korea National Oil Corporation and Lukoil Overseas Holding Ltd (LKOH.MM).

Petronas is also undertaking joint studies with UzbeknefteGaz for cooperation in the development of downstream petrochemical projects in Uzbekistan.

Asakhoja Yusupkhodjayev, a senior Uzbekneftegaz official, confirmed the plans at an energy conference in the Uzbek capital Tashkent and said it proposed building a new gas processing plant by 2012.

"The preliminary cost estimate for such projects is $1.5 billion," he told reporters.