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Venezuela, Russia - Feb 13

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Venezuela Halts Oil Sales to Exxon Mobil

Fabiola Sanchez, Associated Press
Venezuela's state oil company said Tuesday that it has stopped selling crude to Exxon Mobil Corp. in response to the U.S. oil company's drive to use the courts to seize billions of dollars in Venezuelan assets.

Exxon Mobil is locked in a dispute over the nationalization of its oil ventures in Venezuela that has led President Hugo Chavez to threaten to cut off all Venezuelan oil supplies to the United States. Venezuela is the United States' fourth largest oil supplier.

Tuesday's announcement by state-run Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, was limited to Exxon Mobil, which PDVSA accused of "judicial-economic harassment" for its efforts in U.S. and European courts.
(12 February 2008)

Exxon VP: Interested In 'Fair Market' Discussions With Venezuela

Grainne McCarthy, Dow Jones
ExxonMobil Corp. (XOM) remains interested in getting into "substantive discussion" with Venezuela's state-owned oil company over compensation for its oil assets in the Andean nation, a senior company official said Tuesday.

"We do remain interested in getting into a substantive discussion with PdVSA about the fair market value of the assets that have been expropriated," said Mark Albers, Exxon senior vice president, speaking at the Cambridge Energy Research Associates conference here.
(12 February 2008)

Russia, Ukraine Reach Last-Minute Deal, Avert Gas Cut

Greg Walters and Lucian Kim, Bloomberg
Ukraine averted a cut in supplies of natural gas from Russia's OAO Gazprom after the two countries' presidents reached an agreement before a deadline passed.

Ukraine will start paying the debt for 2007 gas deliveries on Feb. 14, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said at a Kremlin press conference broadcast by Russian state television today.

``Gazprom is satisfied with the proposals made by our Ukrainian partners,'' Russian President Vladimir Putin said as officials including Gazprom Chief Executive Officer Alexei Miller looked on. ``Today or tomorrow, we hope all these agreements will be put on paper.''

Gazprom, which supplies Ukraine with 71 percent of its gas, threatened to cut a quarter of deliveries at 6 p.m. Moscow time in the absence of an arrangement on repaying the debt. Russia's gas-export monopoly has said Ukraine owes it $1.5 billion for deliveries since November.

The threatened cutoff was reminiscent of a price dispute in January 2006, when Gazprom turned off all Ukrainian deliveries for three days, causing gas volumes to fall in the European Union. About a fifth of Europe's gas comes from Gazprom via Ukrainian pipelines.
(12 February 2008)

Ukraine president to meet Putin over threat of gas cut

RIA Novosti (Russia) via Malaysia Sun
Ukraine's president will meet his Russian counterpart in Moscow Tuesday to try to resolve the latest natural gas debt row between the countries, and deter a supply cutoff.

Viktor Yushchenko's meeting with Vladimir Putin follows the failure of Ukrainian national energy company Naftogaz and Russia's Gazprom to reach agreement Monday on Ukraine's gas debt that Gazprom puts at $1.5 billion.

Gazprom has delayed by eight hours its deadline for Ukraine to pay the debt, to 6:00 p.m. (3:00 p.m. GMT). The company insists the debt must be paid off before changes to the current supply schemes can be discussed.

Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said the cut-off would only apply to the Russian gas supplied on the border with Ukraine, which makes up 25 percent of the total. The other three quarters is pumped from Central Asia.

Ukraine seeks to remove intermediary firms in gas deals with Russia, with Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, the main driving force behind the initiative, blaming trader RosUkrenErgo for the debt.

The price for gas Russia supplies to Ukraine is also likely to be reviewed. Ukraine, which transits 80 percent of Russian gas supplied to Europe, also seeks to raise its transit fees.

A pricing row between the former Soviet allies led to a brief cut-off of supplies to Ukraine in early 2006, when Europe-bound exports were also affected. The EU buys a quarter of its natural gas from Russia.
(12 February 2008)

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