Russia's Surgut says leaves Venezuela oil consortium

Wed Nov 7, 2012 2:44am EST

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* Analysts say project is aimed at forging political ties

* TNK-BP also decided to leave

MOSCOW Nov 7 (Reuters) - The board of Russia's fourth-largest crude producer Surgutneftegaz voted in favour of leaving the Russian consortium developing Venezuela's Orinoco belt, its last foreign project, the company said on Wednesday.

The consortium owns a 40 percent stake in the project, which started oil production in September, while Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA has 60 percent.

Anglo-Russian oil company TNK-BP has also decided to leave the project to focus on its own assets in the country and started talks with Russian top crude producer Rosneft , also a partner in the project, on selling its share in the consortium.

Sources said Surgut is also likely to sell its share to Rosneft.

LUKOIL and Gazprom Neft are other Russian companies involved in the consortium, which analysts said was mainly aimed at forging ties with Venezuelan socialist President Hugo Chavez rather than yielding substantial profits.

The Junin 6 oil block is one of the most advanced new projects in Venezuela's Orinoco extra heavy crude belt, where Chavez's government is focusing its attention for future production increases. (Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Alison Birrane)

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