MOSCOW, July 2 Rosneft, Russia's top
oil producer, said on Tuesday it had bought the remaining 49
percent of gas company Itera for $2.9 billion from its founder,
furthering its aim of becoming Russia's largest independent gas
CEO Igor Sechin wants to make Rosneft a global energy player
and is aiming for output of 100 billion cubic metres (bcm) of
gas a year by 2020 from about 13 bcm last year, versus dominant
gas producer Gazprom's 479 bcm.
With Russia's No. 2 gas producer Novatek, it is
lobbying for access to export liquefied natural gas (LNG), a
right held only by Gazprom. Rosneft and Novatek are planning new
LNG facilities in Asia and Siberia respectively.
Itera is Rosneft's second big acquisition after its
$55-billion takeover of TNK-BP, once Russia's No. 3 oil
Founder Igor Makarov built Itera up to be a top gas supplier
to the former Soviet Union republics in the 1990s thanks to its
good ties with his native Turkmenistan and his friendship with
former Gazprom executive Rem Vyakhirev.
After a management shake-up at Gazprom in the early 2000s,
Itera's business started to shrink, especially after Gazprom
secured the monopoly on Russian gas exports in 2006.
Russia, the world's No. 1 crude producer, has lost its pole
position in gas production to the United States in the last few
years. Moscow is trying to keep its global influence by building
new LNG facilities and promoting "gas OPEC", the 13-member Gas
Exporting Countries Forum.
(Reporting by Polina Devitt; Writing by Katya Golubkova;
Editing by Louise Ireland)