UPDATE 2-Russia Gazprom Neft buys Chevron assets in Italy

* Buys plant in Bari, marketing and sales ops in Rome

* No price revealed, Gazprom Neft unit pays own cash

* May consider other deals in Europe, Asia (Adds comment from interview, changes dateline to ROME)

ROME, April 22 (Reuters) - Gazprom Neft SIBN.MM, the oil arm of state-controlled gas giant Gazprom GAZP.MM, extended Russia's push into European refining and marketing on Wednesday by buying some Italian assets from U.S. oil major Chevron.

Gazprom Neft’s lubricants unit will buy a plant in Bari, in southern Italy, which makes 36,000 tonnes of lubricants a year for cars, trucks and other industrial uses, and marketing and sales operations in Rome, the companies said.

Chevron CVX.N, the second-largest U.S. oil company, and Gazprom Neft, Russia's fifth-largest oil producer, did not reveal the price of the deal.

Alexander Trukhan, general director of Gazpromneft-Lubricants, told Reuters his company paid cash from 2008’s profits and did not have to borrow other funds.

Russian oil producers have been expanding their presence in Western Europe in recent years, in a Kremlin-backed move to extract more value from Russian crude.

Last month, Russian oil producer Surgutneftegaz SNGS.MM agreed to buy 21 percent of Hungarian oil refiner MOL MOLB.BU.

Rival LUKOIL LKOH.MM bought a 49 percent stake in ERG's ERG.MI Isab di Priolo refinery on Sicily last year and held talks to buy a large stake in Spanish oil company Repsol REP.MC, which has a large refining portfolio.

Chevron said last month it would push ahead with streamlining its lubricants product line and would exit retail markets.


Gazpromneft-Lubricants may consider acquisitions in Europe and Asia, but for now it will focus on integrating Chevron’s Italian business and refinery operations it bought in Serbia earlier this year, Trukhan said.

“In Italy we bought all that we wanted ... Now we need to focus on integration and development of our assets in Italy and Serbia,” Trukhan told Reuters in an interview in Rome.

“If there are new opportunities, we will look at them, depending on market conditions ... European and Asian markets are interesting,” Trukhan said.

He said expected production and marketing synergies between the Chevron assets and the Serbian oil refiner NIS would come from creating a full range of products -- from semi-finished to high-quality finished lubricants -- which will be sold in Italy, Russia and Serbia.

Gazpromneft-Lubricants will also get the right to use the Texaco brand in the Italian market until 2010.

Trukhan said the company may boost capacity of Bari’s plant, which currently uses just one third of its potential, if demand for its products increases.

He declined to reveal investments, which his company planned for the newly acquired Italian business, but said he aimed to present a new strategy for the Italian operations in about three months.

Russian oil companies’ push into downstream activities in Europe reflects Gazprom’s own effort to acquire gas distribution and power-generation assets across the continent.

The move has boosted fears among European politicians that Moscow will gain excessive influence over Europe’s energy supplies.

Additional reporting by Tom Bergin in London, editing by Will Waterman, Bernard Orr