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    Sibneft to pay out over $1 bln in dividends in 2006

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    MOSCOW, February 9 (RIA Novosti) - Russian oil company Sibneft will pay shareholders $1 billion or more in dividends during 2006, the company president said Thursday after a board of directors' meeting.

    Alexander Ryazanov said, "Dividends in 2006 will total no less than $1 billion. Perhaps $1.2-1.3 billion, if we don't buy any new deposits."

    "I consider this to be the optimum sum, which we came to after long calculations," said Ryazanov, who is also a deputy chairman of energy giant Gazprom. "If in contrast to the $1.5 billion in dividends paid out last year we had shown nothing, shareholders would have not understood us. $1 billion is the minimum; if we receive another $300 million on the domestic market, then we will pay out $1.3 billion in dividends."

    The board of directors has approved spending on new acquisitions at $150 million, and $60 million on developing the company's filling station business, he said.

    Sibneft will boost capital investment in production during 2006 by 57%, to around $560 million, raising the company's total capital investment by $700 year-on-year, or about 66%.

    Sibneft is one of the twenty largest oil companies in the world, with proved reserves of over 4.5 billion barrels, and is majority owned by energy giant Gazprom.

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