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American company sells Irish oil interest to Russians

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Irish Business News Discussion:     American company sells Irish oil interest to Russians

It is being reported in business news that two of Russia's biggest companies, Gazprom and Lukoil, are planning major investments in Ireland's energy sector.
Gazprom, the world's largest gas company, has confirmed it is eyeing up the Irish market as part of a major European expansion drive while Lukoil is believed to be the top bidder for the Whitegate oil refinery in Cork.
Lukoil, is believed to well ahead of its rivals in the bidding for Whitegate, which has been put on the market by its owners, US giant, Conoco Phillips with a price tag of between E300m and E380m.
Lukoil is Russia's largest oil company and controls around 20pc of the world's oil production. The sale will net a tidy profit for Conoco, who bought the facility for E95m in 2001. Lukoil is reported to have hammered out a deal with Conoco to buy several refineries and other assets around the world which includes the east-Cork plant as Lukoil puts its plan for rapid global expansion into practice. Conoco last year bought a 20pc stake in Lukoil.
Whitegate employs 150 workers and produces 71,000 barrels of oil per day and has an associated marketing business in Ireland, said Phil Blackburn, a company spokesman. Conoco, the second largest refiner in the United States, said it intends to sell the refinery as an ongoing business but will continue to provide refined products into the Irish and other markets.
The Russian companies are already reported to have run the rule over independent Irish gas provider Vayu, which was also being targeted by Cork-based SWS and which was itself acquired by Ion Equity for E110m last December.
'Our position is that we want to trade energy - not just gas, but power, coal, even carbon - in European markets as they are liberalised,' a Gazprom spokesman said.
He added that calls by the EU's competition commissioner Neelie Kroes for greater liberalisation of gas and energy markets within the European Union are welcomed by Gazprom as it will help the company extend its reach in new European markets using its existing UK model, where it has invested several billion pounds in recent years.
He said that this will include Ireland. 'We will look at all projects, including power, on their business case merits and at this stage we are not ruling out anything,' said the spokesman.
A Gazprom executive said that the company is considering buying stakes in western European power stations to boost revenues.

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