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Novatek Mulls Global Cooperation With Italy's Eni

Russia's second-largest gas producer, Novatek, is considering the possibility of developing gas shelves off Montenegro, Lebanon and Cyprus jointly with Italian oil and gas group Eni.

Novatek, co-founded by Gennady Timchenko, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, and Eni signed a memorandum in late November envisaging preliminary agreements to develop these fields, but no tenders have been yet announced, Novatek head Leonid Mikhelson told journalists Tuesday, Interfax reported.

Novatek, along with Eni, Serbia's NIS — which is owned by Gazpromneft — France's Total, Norway's Statoil, Italia's Edison and other firms declared their interest in developing Montenegro's shelf as early as the start of 2011.

Last year, Eni and Korean Kogas, in a 80-20 percent consortium, won licences for geological exploration on three shelf blocks off Cyprus.

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