* Rosneft to hand back stake in SeverEnergia
* Oil and gas tycoons bicker over control in energy sector
By Vladimir Soldatkin
MOSCOW, Dec 20 Russia's top crude producer
Rosneft has agreed to hand Novatek its stake
in a gas producing joint venture in a non-cash exchange for
other assets, Novatek said on Friday.
Rosneft will exchange its stake in SeverEnergia, which is
expected to produce 36 billion cubic metres of gas and liquids
by 2017, for Novatek's share in Sibneftegaz firm.
"The transaction doesn't involve any cash settlements and
will be closed after receipt of the necessary approvals,"
The deal materialised after bickering between different
clans of wealthy businessmen intensified after the government
opened up exports of liquefied natural gas, which had been
monopolised by state-owned Gazprom.
Rosneft, headed by Igor Sechin, a long-standing ally of
Russian president Vladimir Putin, has ambitious plans to raise
its output to 100 billion cubic metres of gas by 2020 and wants
to build a liquefied natural gas plant (LNG) jointly with
ExxonMobil in Russia's Far East by 2018.
He faced resistance from Novatek's owners, its head Leonid
Mikhelson and Gennady Timchenko, a co-owner of Gunvor trading
house, according to market sources.
A source close to Novatek has said that SeverEnergia assets
are seen as of great importance to the company and would have
fitted with its Yamal project to produce LNG jointly with
France's Total and China's CNPC by 2017.
Rosneft recently bought into SeverEnergia by acquiring a
stake in Italy's Enel for $1.8 billion, while Novatek
and Gazprom Neft have agreed to acquire Eni's share for