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Gazprom Neft Seeks Expansion Into Cuba, Iran

Gazprom Neft is looking to expand its foreign operations into oil-rich Cuba and Iran, which are both hindered by trade sanctions, CEO Alexander Dyukov said Tuesday.

The company is actively seeking to increase its resource base to meet an ambitious oil output goal of 100,000 million metric tons a year by 2020, up from about 60,000 million.

"Gazprom Neft wants to join Petronas' project in Cuba," Dyukov said during the company's annual shareholders' meeting.

His deputy, Boris Zilbermints, said the firm aimed to clinch a deal in July.

Zilbermints also said the company was keen to conclude preliminary talks to develop the Anran oil field in Iran by the end of the summer but implementing the deal would depend on the United Nations changing its trade sanctions on the country.

Last November, Gazprom Neft, Russia's fifth-largest oil producer, signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Iranian Oil Company to study the development of another two Iranian oil fields, Azar and Shangule.

Cuba estimates that it has 20 billion barrels of oil abundant in its section of the Gulf of Mexico that abuts the oil-rich U.S. and Mexican zones of the gulf.

Cuba's portion of the Gulf of Mexico has been divided into 59 blocks, of which 17 have been contracted out to companies including Spanish oil giant Repsol and its partners, Malaysia's Petronas, Brazil's Petrobras, Venezuela's PDVSA and PetroVietnam.

Cuba also presents some difficulties for the development of hydrocarbon reserves because the country falls under a U.S.-imposed trade embargo. The 48-year-old embargo limits the amount of U.S. technology that can be used in oil developments in Cuba.

Gazprom Neft also owns a 20 percent state in a consortium with other Russian producers to develop hydrocarbon deposits in Venezuela.

On Friday, the company signed a production sharing agreement for two oil offshore blocks in Equatorial Guinea, the latest country into which the firm has expanded its activity, pledging $3 billion in investments.

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