GAZPROM UNLIKELY TO BUY YUGANSKNEFTEGAZ, EXPERT SAYS

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MOSCOW, October 21 (RIA Novosti) - Gazprom will most likely not purchase Yuganskneftegaz, Yukos' main production unit, but it may acquire its license, Alexander Shokhin, chairman of the Business Union Coordinating Council, said Thursday.

"I believe Gazprom will develop its oil operations rather intensively," he said, "but it will most likely not want to use such obvious schemes as the purchase of Yuganskneftegaz."

According Shokhin, it is unknown how the purchase of Yukos's main assets will affect the reputation and capitalization of the gas giant.

"The courts will not be avoided," he added.

He said that Gazprom might start oil business, "including purchasing new licenses," the Yuganskneftegaz's license among them, which may be revoked and sold at a tender.

"Whoever buys Yuganskneftegaz will be in for a shock, the minority shareholders will drag not only the state, but the purchaser as well, into numerous court proceedings. When the license is offered, it will already be cleared by the state," Mr. Shokhin said.

Speaking about Gazprom's oil ambitions, he pointed out that the business was very important for the gas company, as it allows Gazprom to compensate for low gas prices on the domestic market. "Oil is more effective on the domestic market, because gas is a social resource," Mr. Shokhin explained.

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