MOSCOW Two Russian energy companies controlled by billionaire Viktor Vekselberg's KES are close to signing long-term gas purchasing deals worth up to $31 billion with crude producer TNK-BP.
The deals will further undermine the position of Gazprom, Russia's top gas producer, in the domestic market. Gazprom has been losing share to rivals such as Rosneft, which is buying TNK-BP for $55 billion.
The boards of power companies, TGK-7 and TGK-9, controlled by KES Holding, recommended their shareholders approve the deals to buy gas from TNK-BP.
Shareholders will review the offers in December.
TNK-BP declined to comment.
TNK-BP could start supplying gas to TGK-9 next year in a deal that will last until 2030, with total volumes seen at 60 billion cubic metres (bcm).
The deal would be worth up to $16 billion, said TGK-9, which operates in the Urals.
The deal with TGK-7 is set to begin in 2015 and run until 2030. Initially, TNK-BP has agreed to supply the generating company in the Volga river region some 20.5 bcm, with a possibility of shipping an extra 36 bcm in 2017-2030. TGK-7 put the value of the deal at no more than $15 billion.
TGK-7 and TGK-9 buy gas mostly from Gazprom, privately held Itera and KES Holding.
Earlier this month, state-controlled Rosneft said it would supply state power company Inter RAO with natural gas for 25 years, in a deal estimated at $80 billion.
TNK-BP, a 50:50 joint venture equally controlled by BP and the AAR consortium of Soviet-born billionaires, has planned to double its gas production by 2016-17 to 26-28 bcm.
(Reporting by Nastya Lyrchikova; Writing by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Megan Davies and Helen Massy-Beresford)