After a US bankruptcy court refused on Friday to play a role in the conflict between Yukos and the Russian authorities, officials may get the chance to continue selling off the embattled company's assets. Experts believe that prize assets Tomskneftegaz and Samaraneftegaz could be put up for sale.
When announcing a forthcoming visit to the region by India's ambassador in Russia, Kanwal Sibal, Tomsk Region Governor Viktor Kress said yesterday, "India has recently displayed interest in a whole number of large and promising oil projects in Russia." However, he did not specify which projects. Experts, though, do not doubt that Tomskneftegaz will be discussed. Although it still belongs to Yukos, it may soon be auctioned off to cover its parent company's tax arrears to the budget. Apart from that, experts believe that the Indian side is also interested in licenses that are still in the Tomsk Region's undistributed subsoil fund.
Early last week, Shankar Aiyar, India's oil minister, visited Moscow with an official delegation. The minister announced that his country's was ready to invest up to $20 billion in the Russian oil sector.
"Naturally, if the investor intends to invest such a sum, he wants to learn more about the assets he can acquire," says Maria Radina, an analyst with Finam, an investment company. She does not rule out that instead of a stake in Yuganskneftegaz, which China also wants to acquire, the Indian side has been promised a large portion of Tomskneft.
However, China is also interested in the region's assets. A source in the Russian government said yesterday that China National Petroleum Corporation had applied to the Federal Anti-Trust Service of Russia with a request to purchase Tomskneft outright. However, Mr. Kress said that he was not intending to allow Chinese capital into his region's oil and gas sector.