Peter Howard Wertheim
RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct. 6 -- Repsol YPF SA Chairman Antonio Brufau and OAO Gazprom Chairman Alexey B. Miller have signed a memorandum of understanding to study possible joint natural gas and oil development projects in Europe, Latin America, and Africa along with LNG projects using resources from Russia, the companies reported.
This MOU will allow the development of the Baltic LNG project and others in Russia.
The development of integrated gas projects and geographical diversification are some of the principal strategies of Repsol YPF, as seen by its regasification capacity in Canada for the US market.
Russia recently bestowed exclusive gas exportation rights to Gazprom, reputed to be the world's leading gas company in terms of reserves, production, and its development activities along the entire integrated gas chain.
Russia President Vladimir Putin's visits to Latin America have resulted in the signing of strategic energy partnerships and in Russian corporate investment in the Latin American energy sector. Russia is mainly cooperating with state-controlled companies.
Last September Petroleos de Venezuela SA signed MOUs with 23 Russian companies, including Gazprom, for the provision of technology and petroleum industry products and services.
Russian newspaper Ria Novosti reported that Putin first received guarantees from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez against possible nationalization of Russian energy company assets and capital in Venezuela.
In Brazil, state-owned Petroleo Brasileiro SA and Gazprom began negotiations in July with an eye to the Russian company's participation in construction of a 10,000-km gas pipeline from Venezuela, through Brazil, to Argentina.
In addition, Gazprom is considering investments of $2 billion in Bolivia's recently nationalized gas industry, say sources from Bolivia's state-owned company Yacimientos Fiscales Petroliferos Bolivianos. Gazprom is looking to build gas separation plants and pipelines to help export LNG as well as explore for gas in new and abandoned fields.
In Argentina, Gazprom and Transportadora de Gas del Sur, the former state-run gas transportation company Gas del Estado, have also expressed interest in joint ventures in the gas sector.
Last year, Gazprom produced 547.9 billion cu m of gas, exporting 249.09 billion cu m of it. Within 5 years, the Russians boosted annual output by 36 billion cu m, an amount comparable to annual consumption in Argentina. Gazprom partners are no doubt also interested in the experience of building and operating high-capacity gas pipelines, reports Ria Novosti.