Russia's Lukoil eyes exit from Venezuela oil project: paper

MOSCOW Wed Oct 2, 2013 2:42am EDT

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's No.2 crude oil producer Lukoil wants to leave a Russian consortium developing a large oil project in Venezuela, the Kommersant daily reported on Wednesday, citing sources close to the project.

A Lukoil spokesman declined to comment.

Lukoil is developing heavy oil in Venezuela's Orinoco basin as part of the Junin-6 consortium, led by Russian state oil major Rosneft (ROSN.MM).

Kommersant reported that Lukoil's president Vagit Alekperov discussed the company's exit from the project and the sale of its 20 percent stake with Rosneft's head Igor Sechin about a month ago in order to "optimise its assets portfolio".

Gazprom Neft (SIBN.MM) is another Russian company participating in the consortium.

Venezuela is the world's 11th largest crude exporter. Foreign companies have faced price controls and currency devaluations along with threats of nationalisation.

The consortium of Russian oil companies owns a 40 percent stake in the project, which started oil production in September 2012, while Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA has 60 percent.

Surgutneftegas (SNGS.MM) and TNK-BP, which was bought by Rosneft for $55 billion earlier this year, have also decided to leave the consortium, citing the need to focus on domestic business.

(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; additional reporting by Olesya Astakhova, editing by Jason Bush and Louise Heavens)

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