RPT-Russia seeks to unlock $25 bln China oil loan talks

Wed Feb 11, 2009 5:26pm GMT

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MOSCOW Feb 11 (Reuters) - A high-level Russian state delegation will travel to China next week in a bid to unlock a $25 billion loan that Moscow is seeking from Beijing as part of a bigger oil supply deal, two industry sources told Reuters.

China is considering lending the money to Russian state-controlled oil major Rosneft (ROSN.MM) and pipeline monopoly Transneft in exchange for securing supplies for 20 years. [ID:nL8140354]

But talks about the biggest ever energy deal between the world's second largest oil exporter and the world's No.2 oil importer stumbled in November over disagreements about interest rates and state guarantees [ID:nLC33731].

On Wednesday, sources said there were still many disagreements between the two sides on the deal, which had been due to be finalised at the end of 2008.

"Transneft cannot guarantee supplies as required by the Chinese legislation and therefore it cannot get the loan," one Russian industry source said on condition of anonymity, because he is not allowed to talk to the press about the issue.

Transneft only pumps crude and does not produce it.

"As for Rosneft, it could in theory assume $25 billion, but it does not want to take on such a high debt burden because it could put its investment rating at risk," the source added.

A second industry source said Moscow was considering offering Beijing state guarantees on the deal, which would require the involvement of a major Russian state bank.

Rosneft needs cash to refinance its heavy debt and Transneft has to fund its expensive pipeline projects while Beijing is seeking direct access to some of Russia's biggest fields.

Transneft is building a 600,000 barrel-per-day oil pipeline from the resource-rich region of East Siberia to Asia -- its first oil pipeline to the region -- and is in talks with Beijing on constructing a spur to China.

Rosneft, which is expected to be the main oil exporter via the pipeline, is now supplying around 10 million tonnes of oil a year to China by railway under the $6 billion 2004 deal.

It has said it would not extend the deal beyond 2010 because it considered it poorly priced. (Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Katya Golubkova, writing by Dmitry Zhdannikov; editing by Guy Dresser)

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