* Spain promises to build EU energy ties with Russia
* Gazprom signs supply deal with Gas Natural
* Medvedev says door still open to LUKOIL-Repsol deal
* Iberdrola, Inter Rao to study joint projects
(Updates with details on Gas Natural, Gazprom accord)
By Oleg Shchedrov and Ben Harding
MADRID, March 3 Russia and Spain signed an energy
agreement on Tuesday that will give Spanish companies greater
access to Russian fields and could smooth the path for Russian
firms to buy stakes in Spanish energy companies.
The framework deal which was unveiled at a joint press
conference between Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez
Zapatero and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev covers the
development of oil and natural gas as well as its transport and
sale, including liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Zapatero was keen to point out the agreement also included
renewable energy, where several Spanish companies hold major
positions including wind turbine maker Gamesa, and Iberdrola,
the world's largest wind energy producer.
"(This agreement) opens the door to collaboration between
our country and one of the biggest energy players in the world,"
Zapatero told a news conference in Madrid. "The memorandum means
greater security in Spain's energy supplies and it guarantees
better access for our companies to Russian energy reserves."
Zapatero said Spain would make building energy ties with
Russia a top priority when it takes over the European Union
presidency in 2010.
Russian-EU energy relations deteriorated after a three-week
spat with Ukraine in January over pricing and payment disrupted
gas supplies to many countries in Europe, calling into question
Russia's reliability as an EU supplier.
The Russian president played down recent rumours that talks
between Sacyr and Russia's LUKOIL over the sale of the Spanish
builder's 20 percent stake in Repsol had been shelved due to
price differences, saying "no one has closed the door on those
Zapatero added the question of whether or not talks
continued between LUKOIL and Repsol "is going to depend on the
GAZPROM, GAS NATURAL STRIKE DEAL
Concrete business deals arising from Medvedev's official
visit to Spain were limited to a gas supply agreement between
Russia's Gazprom and Spain's Gas Natural to export Russian gas
"Thanks to the swap operations, these supplies will start in
the near future, initially in small volumes. We will develop the
project involving the Shtokman field, which will be launched in
2014," Miller said.
The two companies have also agreed to study joint projects
in northeast Europe as well as Gazprom's possible purchase of
gas fired power plants in Spain, Gas Natural said in a
Gas Natural has to sell 2,000 megawatts of gas fired power
stations as part of the conditions for the approval of its bid
to aquire Spanish power company Union Fenosa UNF.MC, which it
plans to partly finance from 3 billion euros of asset sales.
Gazprom's CEO Alexei Miller told reporters in Madrid his
company was also in talks with Spanish oil major Repsol over the
development of Russia's Yamal gas field and the participation of
Repsol in LNG-related projects.
"We will consider the possibility of Spanish companies
taking part in Russian projects, including Yamal. Gazprom is in
talks about such participation with companies including Repsol,"
Spain's lberdrola said on Tuesday it has signed a deal with
leading Russian electricity dealer Inter Rao, to study
opportunities in the Russian Federation, the EU and Latin
(Additional reporting and writing by Jonathan Gleave; editing
by James Jukwey)