Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Russia's Gazprom Neft eyes Iran, Cuba oil projects


* Cuba estimates 20 billion barrels of oil offshore

MOSCOW, June 29 (Reuters) - Gazprom Neft (SIBN.MM), the oil arm of Russian energy firm Gazprom (GAZP.MM), is looking to expand its foreign operations into oil-rich Cuba and Iran, which are both hindered by trade sanctions.

The company is actively seeking to increase its resource base to meet an ambitious oil output goal of 100,000 million tonnes a year by 2020, up from around 60,000 million.

"Gazprom Neft wants to join Petronas' [PETR.UL] project in Cuba," Gazprom Neft head Alexander Dyukov said during the company's annual shareholders' meeting.

His deputy, Boris Zilbermints, said the firm aimed to clinch a deal in July.

Zilbermints also said the company was keen to conclude preliminary talks to develop the Anran oilfield in Iran by the end of the summer but implementing the deal would depend on the United Nations changing its trade sanctions on the country.

Last November, Gazprom Neft (SIBN.MM), Russia's fifth-largest oil producer, signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Iranian Oil Co (NIOC) to study the development of another two Iranian oilfields, Azar and Shangule.

Cuba estimates it has 20 billion barrels of oil-abundant in its section of the Gulf of Mexico that abuts the oil-rich U.S. and Mexican zones of the gulf.

Cuba's portion of the Gulf of Mexico has been divided into 59 blocks, of which 17 have been contracted out to companies including Spanish oil giant Repsol (REP.MC) (REP.N) and its partners, Malaysia's Petronas, Brazil's Petrobras (PETR4.SA)(PBR.N), Venezuela's PDVSA and PetroVietnam.

Cuba also presents some difficulties for the development of hydrocarbon reserves as the country falls under a U.S.-imposed trade embargo. The 48-year-old embargo limits the amount of U.S. technoloby that can be used in oil developments in Cuba.

Gazprom Neft also owns a 20 percent state in a consortium with other Russian producers to develop hydrocarbon deposits in Venezuela.

On Friday, the company signed a production sharing agreement (PSA) for two oil offshore blocks in Equatorial Guinea, the latest country into which the firm has expanded its activity, pledging $3 billion in investments. (Reporting by Katya Golubkova, writing by Vladimir Soldatkin; editing by Karen Foster)

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