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    Strategic gas field in northeast Russia awaits Gazprom in 2008

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    MOSCOW, January 29 (RIA Novosti) - Russian energy giant Gazprom [RTS: GAZP] will start developing one of Russia's largest oil and gas fields in the northeast this year, a regional leader said on Tuesday.

    The Chayanda gas field in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), with proven reserves of 1.24 trillion cubic meters of gas and 50 million metric tons (about 370 million barrels) of crude, was included in the list of strategic deposits in late 2007.

    "Gazprom is to receive access to Chayanda, start developing a feasibility study, complete prospecting work and substantiate delivery routes in 2008," said Vyacheslav Shtyrov, Yakutia's president.

    Speaking at a session of an interdepartmental commission of the Ministry of Regional Development, Shtyrov said all issues concerning transferring the deposit to Gazprom had been resolved.

    "We must start in 2008 so that natural gas can be pumped along the new pipe," the official said.

    He added that Gazprom would receive the entire deposit without it being divided into oil and gas sections.

    Earlier, Natural Resources Minister Yury Trutnev said the oil deposits in the Chayanda gas field could be auctioned off in the first quarter of 2008.

    Rosnedra, Russia's Federal Mineral Resource Agency, previously included the Chayanda deposit in a list of fields slated for auction. However, the field has not been auctioned due to a lack of required 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. And, the ministry said that oil blocks should be developed separately from the gas field.

    The Russian government transferred over 30 gas fields to the list of strategic deposits. 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 only be able to develop them through agreements with Russian operators.

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