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Gazprom: No Shortlist for Shtokman

Gas monopoly Gazprom denied a report on Friday that it had drawn up a shortlist of five candidates to help it develop the vast Shtokman gas field, one of the world's biggest.

At least nine energy firms are eager to get a share of Shtokman, which is expected to supply the North American market with liquefied natural gas for half a century or more, making it one of the most sought-after prizes in the energy sector.

Gazprom has previously said it would name two or three partners in the second half of this year, but might whittle down the number of hopefuls in a shortlist during July.

Kommersant said Gazprom would form two consortia, one to produce the gas from Shtokman, which lies in the Arctic Barents Sea, and another to transport and market it.

The paper said Gazprom would take a controlling share in the production consortium, with Norway's Statoil, Norsk Hydro and Mitsui sharing between 45 percent and 49 percent.

Kommersant said Mitsui would build the LNG plant to supercool Shtokman's gas before it was shipped to the United States.

Kommersant also quoted Gazprom officials as saying that the firm would not insist on having control over both consortia, and that it was likely to have a minority stake in the U.S. sales operation.

But Gazprom denied the report, much of which was unsourced.

"Today Kommersant published an article ... in which the author distorted information received from Stanislav Tsygankov, head of Gazprom's department for foreign communications," the company said in a statement.

"The shortlist of partners in the planned development of the Shtokman field has not yet been drawn up. The organizational structure and business model for Shtokman has definitely not been decided at this point."

Kommersant also quoted Tsygankov as saying the list had closed on July 15, which Gazprom did not contest.

Lying in Russia's sector of the Barents Sea, Shtokman is one of the world's biggest gas fields, with reserves of 3.2 trillion cubic meters of gas and 31 million tons of gas condensate.

Gazprom has signed memoranda of understanding with French oil major Total, Japan's Sumitomo, Statoil and Norsk Hydro, Royal Dutch/Shell, and U.S. firms Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, Chevron and Sempra.

Spokesmen for Norwegian Statoil and Norsk Hydro said their companies had not received any word from Gazprom that they had been selected as partners and had made no partnership deals.

"We have not signed any agreement," Norsk Hydro's spokesman Lars Bjelvin said.

"We are in close contact with Gazprom. ... Our relationship with Gazprom is a long-term one, and we have been working on the Shtokman development for many years."

Statoil spokesman Kai Nielsen also said Statoil had not signed any agreement on a Shtokman partnership.

(The Moscow Times 25.vii.05)

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