MOSCOW May 23 Russia's largest oil firm Rosneft
(ROSN.MM) and BP's (BP.L) Russian venture, TNK-BP TNBPI.RTS,
have agreed to share equally a disputed 11 percent stake in an
East Siberian oil firm, TNK-BP said on Wednesday.
Both TNK-BP and Rosneft, which own 62.7 and 25.9 percent
stakes in VerkhnechonskNefteGas (VCNG) respectively, had claimed
the remaining 11.3 percent stake, which its owner, East Siberian
Gas Company (ESGC), decided to sell last year.
"We confirm that Rosneft and TNK-BP have reached a
preliminary agreement to divide the shares on a parity basis,"
TNK-BP's spokeswoman Marina Dracheva told Reuters.
VCNG develops the Verkhnechonsk field, one of the biggest in
East Siberia, an oil-rich but underdeveloped region set to feed
the planned Asian pipeline to the Chinese border.
The first stage of the pipeline, which will pump 600,000
barrels per day, is to be completed at the end of 2008.
TNK-BP and Rosneft, which is also developing the Vankor
deposit in the region, are among the firms expected to provide
crude for the pipeline, which will help Russia diversify its oil
flows away from Europe and towards energy-hungry Asian markets.
VCNG plans to produce some 16,000 barrels per day during the
first three to five years after it starts commercial production
in 2008 and to raise output later to 150,000-200,000 bpd.
The Verkhnechonsk field's recoverable reserves are estimated
at 1.5 billion barrels, or 83 percent of oil reserves of the
East Siberian Irkutsk region.