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Shell: Putin Did Not Talk Costs

Royal Dutch Shell on Wednesday denied a report that President Vladimir Putin had criticized the rising cost of developing the Sakhalin-2 production field during his state visit to the Netherlands.

The oil major's anticipated increase in costs for the second phase of the project would not be allowed to rise to $20 billion, Putin was cited by Kommersant as saying, with rising costs potentially impacting the state's future income on the project.

"No figures were discussed," Maksim Shoob, spokesman for Shell's Moscow office, said Wednesday, adding that Sakhalin-2 was discussed generally in Putin's meetings with Dutch businessmen. The presidential press service declined to comment.

At the root of the debate is a plan announced in July by Sakhalin Energy -- the Shell-led consortium developing Sakhalin-2 -- to roughly double the budget for the key second phase of the project to $20 billion.

The new budget has yet to be approved by various Russian government bodies still awaiting information on the reasons behind the increases, the Industry and Energy Ministry said Wednesday.

Keeping the development costs to a minimum is in Russia's interest because of the way the fields were divided in a production-sharing agreement signed in 1994 by Sakhalin Energy, the federal government and the Sakhalin regional administration.

Source: The Moscow Times

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