Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov signed a corresponding government resolution on November 28. The document states that the Chayanda gas field, with proven reserves of 1.24 trillion cubic meters of gas and 50 million metric tons (about 370 million barrels), is strategically important for gas supplies in Russia.
Earlier, Natural Resources Minister Yury Trutnev said oil sections of the Chayanda gas field could be auctioned off in the first quarter of 2008.
Rosnedra, Russia's Federal Mineral Resource Agency, has included the Chayanda gas deposit in a list of fields slated for auction on several occasions. However, the gas field has not been auctioned off due to the absence of the necessary legal amendments on strategic deposits.
However, the Natural Resources Ministry said in 2007 that delays in the development of oil sections at the gas field were delaying work to fill the East-Siberia-Pacific pipeline, which is being built to pump crude to the Asia-Pacific Region and China. Therefore, it said oil blocks should be developed separately from the gas field.
The government of Russia has also transferred 31 gas fields to the list of strategic deposits, the government press office said.
The deposits include the gas fields in Yakutia, the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Area in northwest Siberia, gas deposits in the Barents and Kara Seas in Russia's Arctic and the Sea of Okhotsk in the Russian Far East.
Strategic deposits may be developed only by Russian companies, while foreign companies will be able to develop them only through agreements with Russian operators.