Rosneft acquires eastern Siberian licenses from Yukos

The licenses held by Yukos to develop a number of eastern Siberian oil fields were acquired by Rosneft, Russian state-controlled oil company said.

Rosneft said it paid 5.85 billion rubles (US$229 million; EUR166 million) - slightly above the starting price of 5.73 billion rubles - in a bankruptcy auction for properties including the licenses.

The acquisitions will allow Rosneft to "strengthen its position in these strategically important regions," the company said in a statement announcing the deal.

JSC Rosneft bought Yukos' main fields and refineries in liquidation auctions this spring that propelled it to the top spot among Russia's oil producers. Yukos' assets were sold off to pay billions of dollars in back tax claims that Kremlin critics say were part of a drive to boost the state's presence in the oil sector and punish imprisoned former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky for perceived challenges to President Vladimir Putin.

The largely undeveloped fields of eastern Siberia are expected to be a key source of oil and gas in the years ahead amid rising global demand.

Separately Thursday, Semyon Vainshtok, president of state pipeline monopoly JSC Transneft, said that a pipeline being built from Siberia to a point near the Chinese border would be filled entirely by crude from eastern Siberian fields, Russian news agencies reported. That would mean there would be no need to pump oil from Russia's older western Siberian fields, which are used to satisfy European demand.

The pipeline is ultimately expected to carry 1.6 million barrels of oil per day to Asian markets.