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KOMSOMOLSK-ON-AMUR, October 24 (Itar-Tass) - Gazprom and LUKOIL are planning to file an application in the fourth quarter of the years for a license for the Tsentralnoye (central) deposit in the Caspian Sea, Sergei Donskoi, RF Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology, told journalists.
"In the fourth quarter, an application is to be filed to obtain a license on the strength of the fact of discovery," Doskoi said, pointing out that a Tsentralnoye Petroleum Company (TPC) was registered in February. Gazprom, LUKOIL, and KazMunaiGas are the stakeholders of the TPC. "Gazprom and KazMunaiGas are now discussing matters aimed at financing the deposit development," the Minister said.
According to Donskoi, the Ministry is now busy preparing legislation amendments which will make it possible to issue licenses for the development of shelf deposits that were discovered before April 2008 when amendments were introduced to the Law on Subsurface Resources about access to the shelf for Gazprom and LUKOIL.
"In principle, the Law should be changed. This must be a clean record. This is one of the problems that must be addressed," Donskoi emphasized.
The Ministry of Natural Resources reported earlier that a license for the Tsentralnoye might be issued only after the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan introduce amendments to the intergovernmental document on the development of Caspian resources. Upon obtaining a license, the Tsentralnoye must carry out an additional prospecting, and determine a final potential of the deposit, after which work is to be started to draft an Output Sharing Agreement.
A license for geological prospecting of the Tsentralnoye deposit structure belonged to the TsentrCaspneftegas Company, of which LUKOIL and Gazprom are shareholders on a parity basis. As a result of the geological prospecting, the TsentrCaspneftegas discovered a deposit with reserves amounting to 169.1 million tonnes of standard fuel. However, the license for geological prospecting has expired and the joint venture established by LUKOIL and Gazprom failed to obtain a license for production, owing to Russian legislation requirements according to which only companies with a State participation of over 50 percent may develop the shelf resources.
Rosnedra (Federal Agency for the Use of Subsurface Resources) repeatedly pointed out that it is difficult to change the shareholding pattern of the TsentrCaspneftegas because it was stipulated in the intergovernmental agreement between Russia and Kazakhstan on the development of that subsoil area.
Vagit Alekperov said earlier that LUKOIL, Gazprom, and the Kazakhstani KazMunaiGas national company were establishing a joint-venture enterprise to develop the Tsentralnoye deposit, for which a license for geological prospecting and production would be documented. The deposit is located within Russia's Caspian Sea sector, 180 km east of Makhachkala. A large oil and gas condensate deposit with reserves amounting to 169.1 million tonnes of standard fuel was discovered in the field area in May 2008.
At the beginning of this month, at a government meeting in Astrakhan, the Ministries of Energy and Natural Resources were assigned to hasten the process of drawing up and concluding an intergovernmental agreement with Kazakhstan with a view to preparing a feasibility study and cost analysis of the development of the Tsentralnoye field.