Gazprom Neft looks to join Libyan Elephant project in half-year

Gazprom is counting on joining the Elephant project in Libya in half a year's time, the company's first deputy general director, Vadim Yakovlev, has told the press.

"I see no reason for Gazprom Neft not to join the project. The company maintains its interest in it. I hope that in half a year's time we will join Elephant. There are no obstacles on the part of Libya," Yakovlev said.

At the end of last year, Gazprom Neft notified Italy's Eni of its intent to exercise its option to purchase a stake in the Elephant project. The next step involves securing the approval from the Libyan authorities in the person of National Oil Corporation.

The two companies signed an agreement by which the Russian company would have bought a stake in the Elephant project in September of last year. However, because of the political situation in Libya, Gazprom Neft's entry into the project was put on ice. The Russian company had an option to buy from Eni 33 percent in the consortium that controls 50% of the project for $163 million. That option expired on Dec. 22.

The Elephant field, which went commercially on-stream in 2004, lies 800 kilometers south of Tripoli. The project is being carried out by a consortium of ENI (66 percent) and Korean National Oil Corporation and Libya's National Oil Corporation (33 percent). Gazprom will obtain half of Eni's stake in the project.

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