Russia’s Gazprom and Ukraine’s Chornomorneftehaz companies signed on May 29 a protocol of intent to create the joint venture Chernomorneftegazshelf. The venture, which will be based in Crimea and use mainly the floating assets of the Ukrainian partner, will prospect and develop oil and gas deposits on portions of the continental shelf of Ukraine and Russia in the Black and Azov seas. Each side will hold 50 percent of the shares.
The head of the Ukrainian partner, Mykola Ilnitsky, faulted Western companies for declining to participate in the development of the Ukrainian continental shelf, “so we appealed to our brothers whom we trust.” At the same time Ilnitsky pointed out that most of the Ukrainian shelf remains open to prospecting and development by international companies. (Ukrainian agencies, Itar-Tass, May 29)
The northern and northwestern Black Sea was prospected for oil and gas unsuccessfully during the 1970s and 1980s by the Soviet authorities, including at that time Chernomorneftegaz. The current prognosis of 1.5 billion tons of oil equivalent apparently stems from the unsubstantiated estimates of that earlier period.
MOSCOW CONTINUES PRO-ABKHAZ TILT IN THE WAKE OF FIGHTING.