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Putin, BASF Discuss a Plant in Russia

Top executives of German energy and chemicals group BASF met for informal talks with President Vladimir Putin at his Sochi residence Friday, and told reporters that an agreement with Gazprom on the construction of the North European Gas Pipeline would be signed late August.

Putin told the executives that he would discuss a plan for BASF to build "a large plant" in European Russia with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a visit to Germany in October, Interfax and Itar-Tass reported.

BASF and Germany's E.On are partners of Gazprom in the Baltic pipeline project and in Gazprom's vast Yuzhny Russkoye gas field near Tomsk, which has a potential annual output of 25 billion cubic meters.

In an asset swap deal with Gazprom, BASF in April acquired a stake of 35 percent minus one share in the Yuzhny Russkoye field. In return, Gazprom increased its stake in BASF's gas distribution firm, Wingas, from 35 percent to 50 percent minus one share, and also won a stake in a BASF production subsidiary in Libya.

BASF vice president Eggart Voscherau told reporters that his company was working on finalizing contracts with Gazprom on the asset swap "within the next few months."

"We distribute Russian natural gas together on the West European market, and therefore we need to further develop our partnership, including in Russia's chemical industry," Voscherau said.

E.On agreed with Gazprom in July to take a stake of 25 percent minus one share in Yuzhny-Russkoye in exchange for stakes of 50 percent minus one share in E.On's Hungarian gas companies.

(The Moscow Times 21.viii.06)

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