Russia's top two energy companies, the Gazprom natural gas giant and the country's No. 1 oil company Lukoil, signed an agreement Tuesday for a strategic partnership over the next decade.
Gazprom chairman Alexei Miller and Lukoil president Vagit Alekperov agreed that the two companies will implement oil and gas exploration and development projects in Russia's main gas production region, Yamalo-Nenets in Western Siberia, the Russian sector of the oil-rich Caspian Sea, Uzbekistan and other regions.
Miller said the 2005-2014 agreement is "a striking example of a long-term mutually beneficial interaction between Gazprom and independent gas producers."
"Joint use of the capacities and know-how of Gazprom and Lukoil, and of their labor and financial resources, will support growth of the Russian economy and help to strengthen the economic position of each company," Alekperov said.
So far the cooperation between Lukoil and Gazprom was based on a three-year strategic partnership signed in November 2002.
In 2003, Gazprom and Lukoil signed a deal to develop a project in the Caspian Sea together with the Kazakh national oil company KazMunaiGaz. The same year, the two Russian companies signed a gas supply deal in Yamalo-Nenets beginning in 2005.
Separately, Alekperov said Lukoil was in talks on the purchase of embattled oil company Yukos' controlling stake in Lithuania's sole refinery Mazeikiu Nafta, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.
Yukos holds a 53.7 percent stake in Mazeikiu, while the Lithuanian government holds a 40.6 percent stake.
Mazeikiu Nafta, which includes a pipeline and offshore oil terminal, accounts for around 10 percent of Lithuania's annual gross domestic product.
Yukos, once Russia's largest oil producer, was slapped with US$28 billion (€21.5 billion) in tax claims, stripped of its main production unit and is now on the verge of bankruptcy in what observers see as a politically motivated attack on its detained founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
Rescuers found the pilot of one of the two Su-34 fighters that had collided in midair in the Far East on January 18