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    U.S.'s ConocoPhillips confirms interest in Shtokman - Gazprom

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    The United State's ConocoPhillips has confirmed its interest in the vast Shtokman gas project off Russia's Arctic coast, Russia's state-controlled energy giant Gazprom [RTS: GAZP] said Tuesday.

    MOSCOW, March 6 (RIA Novosti) - The United State's ConocoPhillips has confirmed its interest in the vast Shtokman gas project off Russia's Arctic coast, Russia's state-controlled energy giant Gazprom [RTS: GAZP] said Tuesday.

    Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller and ConocoPhillips President and CEO James J. Mulva have met as part of renewed talks with companies short-listed as contenders to develop the deposit, which holds an estimated 3.2 trillion cubic meters of natural gas and 31 million metric tons of gas condensate.

    "The company ConocoPhillips confirmed its readiness to continue talks under new terms of cooperation and its intention to present a package of proposals on the project shortly," Gazprom said on its Web site.

    In October, Gazprom stunned contenders for the project - another U.S. giant, Chevron, Norway's Statoil and Norsk Hydro, and France's Total - by announcing that it would develop Shtokman in the Barents Sea, where the company also plans to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant, on its own.

    Gazprom also said it could attract partners with expertise in liquefying natural gas and development in "severe weather conditions" as contractors, but that it would be the sole license holder.

    Late last year, President Vladimir Putin said Gazprom could still give its partners a stake in the project for access to natural gas end consumers in the U.S. and Europe.

    Some $12-14 billion need to be invested in the project's first phase, and production is expected to begin in 2011.

    ConocoPhillips is one of the three largest gas distributors in the U.S., selling about 90 billion cubic meters a year. The company runs an LNG plant in Alaska and is engaged in a series of LNG projects across the world.

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