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Something Very Unusual Just Happened In Russian Oil & Gas

Refineries might seem pillars of stability in very volatile oil markets – trading companies unbacked by downstream assets are frailer than the others as they cannot stand on both feet, vulnerable to market shocks and recessions. Because refineries are long-term projects feeding the needs of regions and nations, rarely does one hear about refineries being held captive to protracted ownership disputes or being suffocated by governments. Yet Russia has been witnessing a peculiar case of bankruptcy entailing the Antipinsky refinery, one of the most recent additions to the nation’s downstream segment. Truth be said it is not often that one perceives a hitherto independent oil refinery being taken over by a state bank.

But let’s take it one step at a time. The Antipinsky refinery was commissioned in 2006, and for quite a long time it seemed like the quintessence of the capitalist Russian dream, an initiative carried out by an enterprising young university graduate who managed to put some well-connected officials around the project. Transneft, the Russian pipeline transportation monopoly has toyed with the idea of building a refinery along its major trunk pipeline from Western Siberia to Europe in the mid-1990s – it has already chosen the spot, a tiny village (Antipino) a couple hundred meters from the trunk pipeline, as would-be location. Transneft has also bought the basic ready-to-install refinery equipment from US firm Petrofac, for a nominal throughput…




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