The Russian Rosneft and Kazakh KazMunayGaz companies are planning to startexploration drilling of the Kurmangazy oil field before June 2003, thepress service of Rosneft reported. This issue was discussed at a meeting ofRosneft's President Sergey Bogdanchikov and KazMunayGaz 's PresidentLyazzat Kiinov with Anatoly Guzhvin, governor of the Astrakhan region, inAstrakhan on August 30, 2002.Moreover, during the negotiations with the participation of the CentralDesign Bureau Korall and the shipbuilding plant Red Barricades, the partiesdiscussed questions concerning the re-equipping of Rosneft's Ispolinvessel. This ship is to be capable of exploring the Caspian Sea shelf andthe Kurmangazy field. It was decided to prepare the vessel by May 2003.The estimated cost of the re-equipment will amount to some $35m-37m.Rosneft will finance this work.Rosneft and KazMunayGaz considered preparations for making a jointoperating agreement, which will define all aspects of relations of the twocompanies while implementing the Kurmangazy project. The Russian party hasalready elaborated a draft agreement and submitted it to the Kazakh companyfor consideration.As it was reported earlier, Rosneft and KazMunayGaz signed a memorandum onmutual understanding on August 13, 2002. The document stipulates basicproposals of investors on the parameters of cooperation within theframework of the project. In particular, it is proposed to organize aconsortium of the two companies to explore the field and divide products.On July 25, 2002 Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov signed thegovernment decree No. 1026-p on appointing Rosneft as the authorizedcompany to explore Kurmangazy..