Monday, April 21, 2008

Gazprom: Favored to Win a Majority of Russia's Future Oil and Gas Projects

Newly elected Russian president Dmitry Medvedev is currently serving as Gazprom's (ADR: OGZPY) Chairman of the Board, and while Medvedev has served as Chairman of Gazprom prior to his election as President in March of 2008, the continued service of Medvedev appears to be an official endorsement (to say the least) for Gazprom's domestic position in terms of future hydrocarbon acquisitions.

Medvedev made statements in the past - - in mid 2007-- that Gazprom should be worth over $US1Trillion in terms of market capitalization -- currently Gazprom is worth approximately $US315Bn, which is approximately 13x estimated 2007 earnings. As Russia is the world's largest natural gas producer, with Gazprom producing approximately 90% of Russia's production, the current market value of $US315Bn is not excessive by any valuation measure.

Future Acquisition of Russian Gas and Oil Assets Likely to go to Gazprom:

It is probable that most new discoveries in Russia in both oil and gas will go to as a first priority to Gazprom, instead of its rival state owned firm, Rosneft, or privately owned Russian firms such as Lukoil. The intelligence consultancy Stratfor has commented in the past on Gazprom and Rosneft (Russian state owned oil firm)'s rivalry in terms of gaining oil producing assets (articles here and here). With Medvedev in power, the balance appears to shift to Gazprom verses Rosneft -- as analyzed by Stratfor in January of 2008.

Recently Gazprom has been moving to acquire assets from on TNK-BP, Russia's #4 oil producer, signing an agreement to buy its newly acquired Kovyka gas field for a below market value of $1Bn. It should be noted that TNK-BP is a huge oil producer, even as only Russia's #4 oil firm, producing approximately 1.4 million barrels per day of oil (out of a world's average of approximately 83 million barrels per day of oil). Russia is essentially even with Saudi Arabia in terms of daily oil production, sharing the top spot as the world's largest oil producer -- as both Saudi Arabia and Russia producing between 9 and 10 million barrels per day of oil. Much of Russia remains underexplored and as such, future reserve additions to Gazprom going forward appear very promising.

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