* Deal to be signed during President Putin's visit to Baku
* Concrete projects will be defined in next half a year
MOSCOW/BAKU Aug 13 Russia's top crude producer
Rosneft will sign a broad oil and gas cooperation
agreement with Azerbaijan on Tuesday, industry sources said, the
first step towards increasing its presence in a country Europe
hopes will meet its energy demands.
Sources at Azeri state energy company SOCAR and Russian
Energy Ministry said the agreement would not stipulate details
of the cooperation between Rosneft and Azerbaijan,
where the oil industry is dominated by Western oil majors such
as BP, Statoil and Exxon Mobil.
"An agreement between Rosneft and SOCAR will be signed on
Tuesday. Concrete projects will be defined in next half a year,"
a source at the Azeri state company told Reuters.
Both Rosneft and SOCAR declined to comment.
The deal will be signed during a visit by Russian President
Vladimir Putin's to the Azeri capital Baku where he is due to
meet his Azeri counterpart, Ilham Aliyev.
The deal comes at a time when Rosneft is trying to end an
export monopoly on Russian gas by Kremlin-controlled company,
Gazprom. Rosneft has teamed up with Exxon Mobil
to build a liquefied natural gas producing plant in the
Russia's far east later this decade.
Alexei Miller, head of Gazprom and a member of Putin's inner
circle, is noticeably absent from the Russian delegation.
Russia has had a limited presence in the Azeri energy
industry with only Gazprom buying small amounts of Azeri gas for
export in recent years. Russia's No.2 crude producer Lukoil
has some interests in Azeri's oil and gas projects.
Putin's visit underlines Russia's growing interest in
Azerbaijan which has almost a trillion cubic metres in gas
reserves, according to BP data <0#NATGAS-RES=BP>.
Last month, industry sources told Reuters Rosneft was
seeking a stake in Azerbaijan's Absheron gas project. The source
at SOCAR said "it's not ruled out that Absheron along with other
projects will be mentioned in the deal."
(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Katya Golubkova in Moscow
and Lada Evgrashina in Baku; editing by Elizabeth Piper and