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    MOSCOW, March 2, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - The Russian-based LUKoil petroleum mammoth started drilling works today at the Kravtsovskoye Baltic shelf oilfield. Initial yields are expected next summer, to make 70,000 tonnes before the year's end, the company says in a press release circulated tonight.

    The yield will rise to an annual 600,000 tonnes by 2007 to remain steady for the next seven years. The field will stay in exploitation for thirty to thirty five years, expects the company.

    The Kravtsovskoye was discovered in 1983, 22.5 kilometres away from the coast of the Kaliningrad Region, Russia's Baltic exclave. The field is estimated at a total 21.5 million tonnes, 9.1 of this extractable.

    Drilling started in a gala. Ilya Klebanov, presidential envoy plenipotentiary to federal district Northwest; Vladimir Yegorov, Kaliningrad regional governor; and Vaghit Alekperov, LUKoil president, were attending.

    The new field will almost double oil extraction in the Kaliningrad Region, spectacularly increase its exports, and improve its foreign trade balance, said Mr. Alekperov.

    The iceproof open-sea Kravtsovskoye derrick that started performance today comes from LUKoil steelworks. It was made on a federal target programme for Kaliningrad regional progress up to 2010, which the federal government adopted by a decree of December 7, 2001.

    Kravtsovskoye oil will reach the Romanovo storage station along a pipeline 47 kilometres long, to be exported via the Izhevsky petroleum terminal. Its oil and petrochemical product transshipments made 3.3 million tonnes last year to increase to four million now that the Kravtsovskoye has been commissioned-with long-term prospects for six million tonnes.

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