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    ABU-DABI, March 7, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent Yuri Zinin) -- Authorised representatives of Saudi Arabia's government, Russia's Lukoil company and Saudi ARAMCO company signed on Sunday an agreement on developing a natural gas field located in the northern part of the Rub el Hali desert.

    According to the Saudi news agency, the agreement was signed by Lukoil CEO Vagit Alekperov, on the Russian side, and by Minister of Petroleum & Mineral Resources Ali An-Naimi and ARAMCO President Abdullah Jumah, on the Saudi side.

    In January 2004, the Minister of Petroleum & Mineral Resources of Saudi Arabia announced that Lukoil had won the tender for development of the 29,000 sq. km. Block A natural gas field in the Rub el Hali desert. As a result, Lukoil was granted the right to conclude a 40-year contract with the Government of Saudi Arabia for exploration and development of the natural gas deposit.

    A Russian-Saudi joint venture Luksar is to be set up to implement the project. Lukoil will own 80 percent of Luksar, with the remaining 20 percent to be held by the local ARAMCO company.

    By the end of March, the JV partners will have set up Luksar's 11-member board of directors (eight from Lukoil, two from ARAMCO and one from the Saudi Government). The board will then elect a Lukoil representative to be the joint venture's managing director.

    Lukoil is convinced that there are large natural gas resources in the north of the Rub el-Hali desert in Saudi Arabia, a spokesman for the Russian leading oil company said.

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