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    RUSSIAN OIL GIANT SETS SIGHTS ON MIDEAST, NORTH AFRICA

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    CAIRO, APRIL 1, 2004. (RIA Novosti's Igor Kuznetsov) - The Russian petroleum giant LUKoil Overseas is holding a regional investor conference in the Egyptian capital of Cairo.

    Speaking at the opening ceremony, LUKoil CEO Andrei Kuzyaev said his company was stepping up operations in North Africa and the Middle East.

    LUKoil now extracts oil from four Egyptian deposits with the proven reserves totaling over 250 million barrels (two of the deposits are developed under a product sharing agreement while the other two, under a concession). The company has been operating in Egypt since 1997, and it opened an office in Cairo two years ago, Kuzayev said.

    LUKoil plans to increase its investment in Egypt to $400 million and to bring its share in that country's total oil output to 10 percent.

    At present, this leading oil producers operates in 58 Russian regions and in 25 countries across the world, recovering 81.5 million tons of crude oil annually (including 29 million tons outside Russia) and 5.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas.

    In Iraq, LUKoil holds a concession for the development of 68.5 percent of the West Qurna 2 oil field. The company has just begun to supply petroleum products to that country.

    Addressing the LUKoil-organized investor conference, Egyptian Energy Minister Sameh Fahmi praised LUKoil for its contribution to the development of Egypt's energy reserves and to the promotion of Russo-Egyptian economic cooperation.

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