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Transneft buys Baltic oil terminal from Gunvor

Eric Watkins
OGJ Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 10 -- Russia's state-owned pipeline monopoly OAO Transneft has acquired an oil terminal under construction in the Russian Baltic Sea port of Ust Luga from Gunvor International BV.

Gunvor did not disclose the price or its reasons for selling the terminal, which is due for completion by yearend. The Gunvor terminal is expected to handle 25 million tonnes/year of oil in 2010.

The sale to Transneft, which had been developing plans of its own for a terminal at Ust Luga, came less than a week after a Gunvor affiliate was granted a substantial loan to build the terminal.

According to Interfax, the supervisory board at Vnesheconombank (VEB) approved an 8-year loan of $545 million to Rosneftbunker, a firm associated with Gunvor, to build the terminal at Ust Luga.

VEB Chairman Vladimir Dmitriyev said the increased funding “strengthens the potential of this infrastructure project and handling capacity in the immediate phase to 30 million tonnes of oil and petroleum products, with scope for subsequent growth.”

He said, “Russian oil companies like Rosneft and Transneft will benefit from the project. The oil trader Gunvor is one of the main shareholders. Thus, we are redirecting cargo from [other] ports in the Baltic region to Ust Luga.”

A Gunvor representative said the terminal's construction would proceed on schedule.

Analyst IHS Global Insight, which questioned Gunvor’s motives in selling the terminal, said the clear beneficiary would be Transneft, which started building an oil pipeline to Ust Luga earlier this year.

Transneft began construction of the Baltic Pipe System-2 (BTS) on July 10. The route of the pipeline is from Unecha to Ust Luga in the Leningrad Oblast with a spur going to the Kirishi oil-processing plant.

Construction of Transneft’s 1,170-km pipeline will be completed in two stages: the first having a capacity of 30 million tpy and the second reaching 50 million tpy.

Global Insight said the new pipeline would be a way of rerouting oil exports via the Druzhba pipeline and bypassing Belarus, “so acquiring the terminal from Gunvor will help the Russian pipeline operator synchronize the terminal and pipeline in one project.”

In August, prior to news of the VEB loan, Transneft presented plans of its own to the government of the Leningrad Oblast for the construction of an oil terminal for the Baltic Pipe System-2 (BTS) at Ust Luga port.

Transneft said its proposed terminal would receive and store oil from the main BTS oil pipeline, with capacity initially hitting 30 million tpy before rising to 38 million tpy.

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