By Denis Pinchuk and Dmitry Zhdannikov
ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) – Russia’s state-controlled gas giant Gazprom <GAZP.MM> could gain control over some of the assets that Shell <RDSa.L> acquired earlier this year from BG group, a senior Gazprom executive said in an interview.
Gazprom’s Deputy Chief Executive Alexander Medvedev said the BG holdings could be included in an asset swap deal between Gazprom and Shell that was announced last year. He did not say what the BG holdings were or where they were located.
“The work is under way, progress has been made and the final result is just around the corner – it’s certain that the (deals will be completed) by the year-end, maybe earlier,” Medvedev said in an interview cleared for publication on Monday.
“Obviously, the BG assets are also in that basket,” Medvedev told Reuters in the interview.
Gazprom is subject to U.S. financial sanctions imposed on Russia over the conflict in Ukraine.
Shell signed a deal with Gazprom last week to study jointly building a $10 billion (6.82 billion pound) gas plant on the Baltic Sea, as part of their strategic partnership which also foresees asset swaps.
Shell, which wants to sell as much as $30 billion worth of assets and exit 10 countries after merging with BG, has never commented on the assets it plans to offer to Gazprom.
The asset swap deal is not covered by the scope of the sanctions. Nevertheless, it could still arouse political sensitivities, especially if as part of the deal the Russian company, run by a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, ends up controlling assets in western Europe.
Shell acquired BG Group for $54 billion in February.
Under the previously-announced terms of their asset swap deal, Gazprom and Shell will jointly invest $13 billion in three projects in Russia, including construction of a liquefied natural gas plant on the Baltic Sea and the Sakhalin-2 LNG plant expansion, in the Pacific Ocean.
Shell is also eyeing the Yuzhno-Kirinskoye gas field off Sakhalin island as part of the asset swap deal. That asset is specifically subject to the U.S. sanctions, complicating any involvement by Shell.
GAS AUCTION, LNG
Gazprom has another asset swap deal with Austrian energy firm OMV <OMV.VI> which will include OMV-owned assets in the North and Norwegian seas. Medvedev said in the interview that deal too would be completed by year end.
Medvedev also told Reuters that Gazprom plans to offer no less than 3 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas at an auction for northwest Europe for supplies between October and March.
Last year, Gazprom started holding gas auctions for sales to Europe as part of efforts to protect its market share against other producers and types of fuel.
Medvedev also reiterated Gazprom’s position that the United States will struggle to market its LNG to Europe because other markets offer more favourable conditions.
“Under the current pricing situation, they will resend (LNG cargoes) to other markets,” Medvedev said.
(Reporting by Denis Pinchuk, Dmitry Zhdannikov and Oksana Kobzeva; writing by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Christian Lowe and Ruth Pitchford)