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Rosneft to open research center in Qatar, as cooperation with OPEC members grows


Rosneft said Thursday that it has agreed to open a research and development center focusing on petrochemicals and shipbuilding technology in Qatar, following several meetings between Russian and Qatari officials this week.

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The move is the latest sign that Russian companies are expanding bilateral cooperation with OPEC member countries following the OPEC/non-OPEC crude oil production cut deal.

Many of these agreements could outlast that deal.

To date Rosneft's key cooperation with Qatar has been the Qatar Investment Authority's stake in Rosneft. QIA and Glencore agreed to buy a 19.5% stake in Rosneft in late 2016.

Less than a year later China's CEFC agreed to buy a 14.16% stake in the consortium, but this deal has yet to be completed.

There has recently been speculation that this deal may be jeopardized by an investigation into CEFC's chairman for economic crimes in China.

Glencore previously said it was planning to close the deal in the first quarter of 2018. Glencore declined to comment Thursday on the status of the deal.

On Monday the Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani met with Russian president Vladimir Putin and other officials including energy minister Alexander Novak in Moscow.

Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin then travelled to Doha where he discussed joint projects with officials, including energy minister Mohammed Saleh Al Sada and the management of Qatar Petroleum, Rosneft said in a statement.

The Rosneft Research Center will open in the Qatar Science and Technology Park and focus on developing petchems and shipbuilding cooperation, Rosneft said.

"Studies in the field of integrated geological and engineering software, and 3D designing and modeling in refining and petrochemistry will be key focus areas," Rosneft said.

"Cooperation will also be carried out in the field of shipbuilding, including the possibility of a joint project for the construction of ships and the creation of equipment at the Zvezda shipyard."

Rosneft and Qatar are also working on developing integrated oil and gas education programs.

Sechin described Qatar as "one of the leaders of the global oil and gas industry."

"Interaction in scientific and technical research is one of the goals of our cooperation," Sechin said. "Qatar has created a unique research center in which leading world companies and educational institutions operate, which creates grounds for a real breakthrough in oil and gas science."

In addition to Qatar, Russia has signed bilateral deals with other OPEC members including Saudi Arabia and Iran since agreeing to the crude output cut deal.

--Rosemary Griffin,
--Edited by Jonathan Fox,