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French oil giant Total (TOT
) has bought about 25% of Novatek, Russia's largest independent gas producer, for an estimated price of $1 billion. The move confirms the continued interest from the oil majors in Russian energy assets despite the protracted fallout from the Yukos affair. Novatek earned $112 million last year and produced 1.8 billion cubic feet of gas a day. The Russian company's main asset is the Yurkharov gas field. Key to the future success of the Novatek/Total venture will be its ability to negotiate favorable distribution terms with Russia's giant, state-controlled Gazprom. Meanwhile, another move is expected soon in the Russian oil patch as ConocoPhillips (COP
) considers an investment in Lukoil (LUKOY
). EDITED BY Edited by Chris Power