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MOSCOW, April 14 (Reuters) - Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom (GAZP.MM) has been awarded the rights to develop the large Chayanda gas field in Siberia without an auction, Russian news agencies reported on Monday.
Agencies cited Deputy Energy Minister Andrei Dementyev as saying Gazprom would start work on the licence this year with a view to starting production in 2016.
“It is being transferred without a tender, just as is provided for in the legislation,” Dementyev was quoted as saying by Interfax.
Gazprom could not be reached for comment on Monday.
Chayanda has caused much dispute between Russia’s Energy Ministry and the Natural Resources Ministry, whose minister Yuri Trutnev has opposed the sale of the deposit without a tender.
Gazprom had previously asked the government to give it out-of-competition rights to develop Chayanda, which is in diamond-rich Yakutia in the country’s Far East, where winter temperatures regularly drop to minus 60 degrees Celsius.
Chayanda, which has estimated gas reserves of 1.2 trillion cubic metres, was added to Russia’s list of “strategic” assets in December 2007.
The assets have been deemed necessary for Russia to survive independently and are off-limits for development by foreign firms.
Trutnev has previously said any field containing 70 million tonnes of oil, 50 billion cubic metres of gas, 50 tonnes of gold or 500,000 tonnes of copper should qualify as strategic. (Reporting by Robin Paxton and Amie Ferris-Rotman)