UPDATE 1-Rosneft's CEO dismisses report of Exxon leaving Russian venture

Fri May 23, 2014 12:29pm EDT

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ST PETERSBURG, Russia May 23 (Reuters) - Igor Sechin, the head of Russia's top oil producer Rosneft, on Friday dismissed a report that U.S. major ExxonMobil might leave the Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project.

"I didn't hear about it... But I don't think that an oil company may just easily leave an operating project which is producing ... It is just unreal... I think this is just rumours," Sechin told reporters.

Last week, Russian state news agency ITAR TASS quoted a Sakhalin region source as saying Exxon might leave the project and local authorities would buy its stake. That report was denied by Exxon.

The United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions on some Russian individuals and entities following Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in March.

The individuals include Sechin, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, whose Rosneft co-owns the Sakhalin-1 project, which produced 7 million tonnes of oil - 140,000 barrels per day - last year.

ExxonMobil holds a 30 percent stake in Sakhalin-1, Japan's Sodeco consortium has 30 percent, India's ONGC holds 20 percent and the rest is controlled by Rosneft. (Reporting by Katya Golubkova and Dmitri Zhdannikov; Writing by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Lidia Kelly and Mark Potter)

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