Russia's Expansion into the Turkish Oil Sector

Even with considerable debt, Tatneft plans to to acquire Turkish oil assets
Last week, Director General of the Tatneft oil company Shafagat Takhautdinov announced the intention of the company and its shareholders to purchase 67 per cent of Turkey's Turpas (four oil refineries with the capacity of 27 million tons of oil per year and a petrochemical complex). However, many people don't treat seriously the statement of the Tatneft top-manager. The company is one of the largest oil suppliers for the Turkish group (about 3 million tons of oil per year).

The financial situation of Tatneft is rather difficult: the debt of the company is about $800 million. But the problem seems to be not really alarming for the Tatneft owners. Since beginning of the year top-managers of Tatneft have already declared that they would build a new oil refinery in Russia's Leningrad Region (in immediate proximity to the new port of Primorsk), would also buy 43 per cent of an oil refinery in the Ukrainian city of Kremenchug; the company said they were going to considerably expand the network of its filling stations.

Oil market participants reacted to the news about the purchase of Turpas with good humor. "For many years Tatneft still cannot complete the construction of the Nizhnekamsky oil refinery. Can it be a serious talk about a purchase for $1.5 billion?" a representative from another Russian oil company commented upon the information about Tatneft's intentions. It is highly likely that Tatneft itself needs a stronger partner rather than it can take care of new assets in Turkey.

And the Tatarstan oil company will get this partner. Speaking about the prospective Turkish expansion, the Tatneft director general specified that Tatneft would purchase Turpas having formed an alliance with one of Russian oil companies. Meanwhile, TNK and LUKOIL also evince great interest in Turkish oil assets. It is highly likely that it will be LUKOIL that may form an alliance with Tatneft for purchase of the Turkish oil company.

In fact, competitors say that the former leader of Russia's oil industry, LUKOIL, has become very active since beginning of the year. This is said to be connected with the loss of the leading positions because of a new leader, YUKOS. The company of Vagit Alekperov is not pleased with the status of being Russia's second important oil company. Recently, LUKOIL has completed the uptake of the Urals Group oil assets in the Komi Republic, achieved complete control over the Arkhangelskgeoldobycha enterprise; the company also consolidated its positions in St.Petersburg and Estonia.

It is not ruled out that later an alliance that Tatneft and LUKOIL may form to purchase the Turkish oil assets will further lead to even more complicated consoldiations. As for LUKOIL, purchase of Tatneft will become at least a partial solution of the problem connected with LUKOIL's loss of the leading positions. Then the tactical alliance will become common business for the oil companies.

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Author`s name Margarita Kicherova