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Gazprom Wants to Build Pipeline From Alaska

Gazprom wants to join a gas pipeline project in Alaska and has already made a proposal to BP and ConocoPhillips, its chief executive Alexei Miller said Saturday.

"We are interested, for example, in such big projects as building a gas pipeline from Alaska," Miller told the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

"We have made the relevant proposals to our partners, ConocoPhillips and BP," he said.

Gazprom is looking to expand outside Europe, to which it is already a key supplier, providing one-quarter of its gas needs.

Miller's deputy, Alexander Medvedev, later told reporters that Gazprom would also hold talks with the leader of a competing project, TransCanada.

"Given Gazprom's [future] role in LNG supplies to the North American market, we are discussing not only broad cooperation in the LNG business or gas marketing in Canada but also participation in chains that bring added value," Medvedev said.

In April, Conoco and BP agreed to team up to build a natural gas pipeline costing more than $30 billion to link Alaska's North Slope with markets in the rest of the United States by 2018.

The project has been discussed since the 1970s but has been delayed by high costs and disputes over revenues.

TransCanada, which has an application for a state license pending before the Alaska legislature, plans another project that would run nearly 3,200 kilometers from Prudhoe Bay to the Alberta-British Columbia border.

Conoco, BP and ExxonMobil, which together control the estimated 850 billion cubic meters of proved natural gas reserves on the North Slope, refused to participate in the state-backed process, citing concerns over taxes and government control over operations.

Miller also said he expected Russian gas to be traded in rubles at a gas exchange in St. Petersburg when Gazprom finishes building its Baltic Sea pipeline, known as Nord Stream, in 2011, but did not give details.

Medvedev said Austrian oil company OMV would "soon" join Gazprom's South Stream as the "coordinator" of the pipeline on Austrian territory, Bloomberg reported.

Gazprom held talks with Austrian Economy Minister Martin Bartenstein during the forum, Medvedev said.

South Stream is planned to connect Central Europe to Russia via a pipeline traveling under the Black Sea and up through the Balkans. OMV is also a shareholder in the rival Nabucco pipeline, which is designed to diversify Europe's gas imports away from Russia.

Rosatom chief Sergei Kiriyenko said Saturday that a nuclear reactor might be built to supply electricity to Gazprom's offshore Shtokman project in the Arctic Ocean, Bloomberg reported.

"We're in early-stage talks with Gazprom'' to increase capacity at an existing atomic energy plant on the Kola Peninsula, Kiriyenko told reporters.

Royal Dutch Shell and Gazprom signed a preliminary agreement Saturday to study liquefied-natural-gas projects on the Yamal Peninsula, Bloomberg reported.

The companies may also consider LNG projects in third countries, Shell CEO Jeroen van der Veer told reporters at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

European nations may face a "crisis" unless they unite for negotiations with Gazprom, said Fulvio Conti, chief executive of Italy's Enel, Bloomberg reported.

"To the extent that we are keeping an individual approach as opposed to a unitary approach from a Europe standpoint might create, here and there, some crisis," Conti said in an interview Saturday at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

A single European policy will also be needed to create a bloc-wide gas delivery network, Conti said.

He also said he expected Gazprom to exercise an option to buy natural gas assets in Siberia and shares of Gazprom Neft "pretty soon."

Enel and Eni in April 2007 paid 151.5 billion rubles ($6.4 billion) at an auction for 20 percent of Gazprom Neft and Siberian gas fields being developed by Arctic Gas and Urengoil.

Gazprom has said it would exercise an option to buy the Gazprom Neft stake along with 51 percent of Arctic Gas and Urengoil.

(The Moscow Times 9.vi.08)