Establishing a national Russian oil company has dropped to low priority

Jun 28, 1999 02:00 AM

The planned creation of a Russian national oil company through a merger of three oil giants will cause more harm than good, a top government minister said recently.
The previous government announced plans earlier this year to form an oil company that would own some of the world's largest reserves of prospected oil. State-owned oil company Rosneft, state-controlled Onako and the Russian-Belarusian joint venture Slavneft would form its core.
"The proposed merger ... will bring more trouble than benefit," First Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Aksyonenko told.
Aksyonenko did not indicate that the merger would be abandoned, but said work on establishing a national oil company had dropped to a low priority for the government.
Aksyonenko was speaking in Moscow upon return from the Belarusian capital Minsk, where he met with officials from Slavneft. They had apparently expressed concern about their - and Belarus' - role in the new company.
Aksyonenko, a former railroad chief, unexpectedlyvaulted to the first deputy premier post in the last government shake-up.
The Russian government would own 75 % of the new company, which could extract 58 mm tpy of oil, officials say.
The national oil company would also be open to mergers with other Russian companies that have struggled because of low global oil prices and Russia's economic meltdown last year.

Source: AP via Newspage
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