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In Great Demand: Private Investors Rush to Get Nenets Licenses

This is an abridged version. The full text is avaiable to subscribers to The Russian Energy weekly.

Three blocks of the poorly-explored Korotaikha Depression have been licensed in the Nenets Autonomous District. Three more, allegedly with even richer resources, have been reserved—allegedly for government-backed players. Private companies, however, are determined to fight for these licenses, too.

Military Secrets

Five licensing auctions in Naryan- Mar, the capital city of the Nenets Autonomous District, were organized on October 28 to launch upstream operations in a new, potentially rich, oil area. Bashneft won three licenses; and Lukoil and Shell Neftegas Development got the other two. The auctions for three more blocks, allegedly the most promising ones, had been canceled suddenly.

Those three blocks—Yangareisky, Verkhne-Yangareisky and Sabriyaginsky— had been offered to Russian operators only; and the schedules, terms, and subcontractors’ lists had to be vetted by the General Staff of Russia’s Armed Forces.

The head of Rosnedra’s Nenets branch Andrei Shilov told RusEnergy that the blocks had to be taken off because the defense ministry had not consented to the licensing by that moment. Rosnedra sent a new request for the permission in early November but has not yet received any response.

The military do not inform Rosnedra what military objects might be located within the blocks. An official of the licensing agency suggested that debris from space missiles, launched from Plesetsk, could have landed there. It is not clear why other blocks in the vicinity did not fit this description.

Oil industry officials are inclined to believe that the interference of the military may be a sign of some influential entity’s interest in the licenses. ‘These three blocks may reappear later at a tender on terms that would benefit a specific bidder,’ an oil company executive told RusEnergy. ‘Chances are higher for state-backed companies but nobody is willing to give up.’

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