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By Denis Dyomkin
ARKHANGELSK, Russia, July 11 (Reuters) - Russia will consider making an offer for Oman’s stake in the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) should the Middle Eastern state decide to sell out, Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin said on Friday.
Russia and Kazakhstan, the two governments with a stake in CPC, have first right of refusal on Oman’s 7 percent stake in the consortium, the key export route for Kazakhstan’s crude oil.
Industry sources told Reuters this month Oman, frustrated with delays to the pipeline’s expansion, had decided to quit the project. The country has not officially commented on the matter.
Asked whether Russia — the main host state — would make an offer, Sechin said: “We are studying this issue.”
Sechin, an influential vice-premier who oversees the energy sector, was speaking to reporters on an aeroplane descending toward the northwestern Russian city of Arkhangelsk.
Russia has a 24 percent stake in CPC and Kazakhstan owns 19 percent. The rest belongs to private shareholders: Chevron (CVX.N), BP (BP.L), Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L), ExxonMobil (XOM.N) and Russian firms LUKOIL (LKOH.MM) and Rosneft (ROSN.MM), of which Sechin is chairman.
Kazakh state oil and gas company KazMunaiGas [KMG.UL] is also studying the possibility of acquiring Oman’s stake in CPC, the company’s president, Serik Burkitbayev, said on Friday.
CPC, which pumps oil from Kazakhstan to Russia’s Black Sea coast, last year reported its first ever net profit, $423 million, after raising shipping fees.
Russia has strictly opposed doubling the consortium’s capacity from the current 700,000 barrels per day. It criticises the project for low returns and argues that an expansion would add pressure on the congested Turkish straits.
The ban has limited private shareholders from increasing their production in Kazakhstan. (Additional reporting by Raushan Nurshayeva in Astana, writing by Robin Paxton)