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Rosneft, the Russian state-owned oil company has bought Enel’s 40 percent stake in Arctic Russia BV for $1.8 billion, giving it an indirect stake of 19.6 percent in the Russian gas producer SeverEnergia.
Rosneft, the world’s largest listed crude oil producer, has been aggressively trying to expand its natural gas production business with numerous purchases, including the $2.9 billion purchase of Russian gas company Itera.
Rosneft, whose CEO Igor Sechin is a long-time friend and ally of Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, has stated its intent to increase its share of the Russian natural gas market from the current nine percent to 19-22 percent by 2020.
Hoping to increase production from 42 billion cubic metres forecast this year, to 60 billion cubic metres in 2016, and then 100 billion cubic metres by 2020.
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Sechin claimed that “the gas business is one of the company's strategic development priorities. Acquisition of a stake in SeverEnergia will create a multiplying effect for further growth.”
SeverEnergia owns licenses for nine gas fields in Russia, giving Rosneft access to reserves of 7.3 billion barrels of oil equivalent.
Enel, the Italian energy company, is the most indebted utility in Europe, and has promised to sell €6 billion of assets by the end of 2014 in order to pay off creditors and create a healthier balance sheet.
A utility analyst from Milan told Reuters that “the disposal plan is vital for Enel and there were some concerns it was taking too long. But finally they're moving and this is a relatively big step forward to getting its balance sheet into better order.”
SeverEnergia is owned 51% by Yamal Development, a joint venture between Novatek and Gazprom, and 49% by Arctic Russia BV, a joint venture between Eni and Enel of Italy.
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com