Gazprom seeks Sibneft deal by end of 2005 - official

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BEIJING, September 21 (RIA Novosti, Alexei Yefimov) - Gazprom, Russia's natural gas giant, could complete talks on buying Sibneft, the country's fourth largest oil producer, by the end of 2005, a senior Gazprom official said Wednesday.

Alexander Medvedev, Gazprom's deputy chief executive and general director of its export-sales arm, Gazpromexport, told a Beijing news conference: "It is no secret that we are discussing buying Sibneft. I hope negotiations will be completed by the end of this year."

Medvedev did not reveal how much the deal was worth.

If the deal is clinched, Gazprom will be able to expand exports in the Asia-Pacific Rim, Medvedev said. He added that the company was seeking to deliver both natural gas and oil to China, and was ready to invest as much money as necessary.

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