Shell Says 2002 "Crucial" For Russian Ventures

The Royal Dutch/Shell Group, which is the biggest foreign investor in Russia, said this year will be “very crucial” to its decade long involvement in the country, as it decides the fate of $16 billion worth of projects. Shell's share of the investments would come to about $8 billion, Chairman Phil Watts said at a Moscow press briefing. The second largest publicly traded oil group in the world has invited Gazprom, the world's top gas producer, to join in the $10 billion Sakhalin-2 oil and natural gas development off Russia's Pacific coast, Shell said. The Russian government is Gazprom's biggest shareholder. “2002 is a very crucial year for Shell in Russia as we have many projects” needing decisions soon, Watts said. Sakhalin “needs strong support from the authorities.” President Vladimir Putin, who has now been in power for two years, wants to accelerate the pace of foreign oil investment in Russia, which is the world's second biggest crude producer. Shell’s European rival BP yesterday said that it would spend $375 million to raise its stake in Russian company Sidanco, dropping a threat to abandon the country. Visit to &to=,2163,50019,00.html ' target=_blank>HOOVERS

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