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Yukos Tops LUKoil for No. 1 Spot

In October, Yukos pulled ahead of LUKoil as Russia's largest oil producer and has occupied the No. 1 spot since then, a top Yukos executive said.

"The order of oil companies has significantly changed over the last year," Ray Leonard, Yukos vice president for exploration and new ventures, told a conference in Paris.

"I know people say that LUKoil is the biggest producer but since October, Yukos has increased its production and is now the No. 1 producer in Russia," he said.

Analysts had expected Yukos, already the top oil firm by market capitalization, to overtake LUKoil by volumes of oil output as early as this year.

During the first quarter of the year, Energy Ministry data showed Yukos was the biggest producer at 19.2 million metric tons for the three months, followed by LUKoil at 19 million tons.

In 2002, LUKoil was the largest Russian producer at 75.5 million tons, while Yukos trailed at 69.9 million.

Leonard said total Russian production was forecast to rise 7 percent to 10 percent this year, but Yukos will boost its output by 20 percent, while LUKoil's output was only due to rise by less than 3 percent.

The country's energy landscape will change over the next three years, Leonard said, adding that he expected more consolidation, with the number of integrated majors dropping from eight companies in 2003 to four to seven integrated majors. He said Yukos estimates the country's proven oil reserves at 97 billion to 119 billion barrels, more than double previously published estimates.

Yukos, which carried out a study last year after being granted access to databases in Russia, where total oil reserves were classified as a state secret, also said the risked estimate of additional reserves through exploration was 44 billion barrels.

BP's statistical review estimates Russian oil reserves at 45 billion barrels.

"Forty-five billion barrels is not the right number. Yukos' yearlong study resulted in an estimate of 97 to 119 billion barrels based on different oil price scenarios," Leonard said.

(The Moscow Times 14.iv.03)

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