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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 9, 1999

9 November 1999
Oil Refinery Construction Frozen
Tatarstan is freezing construction of a large-scale oil refinery that will cost more than $1 billion, the republic's press reported on 9 November. After a closed-door meeting last week at which the future development of the Nizhnekamskneftekhim company was discussed, Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev said that plans for the construction of the oil refinery were replaced with plans to modernize the current Nizhnekamsk oil complex. Construction of a new oil refinery started in 1997 with the partnership of Tatneft, Nizhnekamskneftekhim, the Tatar-American Investment Fund (TAIF), and Taneftekhiminvestholding. Plans to construct the refinery, which would be able to process 7 million tons of oil per year and allow for diversified production, were ruined by last year's financial crisis. Some $135 million was invested in the new oil refinery with a $115 million loan from the ExIm Bank.

Local media report that Tatneft will assume the burden of the debts for the reconstruction of the current refinery. The AK&M agency in Tatarstan recently said that the "current situation [regarding] oil prices reveals that it's more profitable for Tatneft to process its oil in the republic of Bashkortostan.

Tatneft's Rating Lowered
The international Fitch IBCA agency downgraded Tatarstan's Tatneft oil company to a CC rating in long-term operations, the AK&M Agency reported on 9 November. According to the agency, the rating was lowered after Tatneft announced that it failed to pay the coupons it owed according to its Eurobonds, which have a total emission value of $300 million. Starting in late 1998, Tatneft has been negotiating with its foreign creditors to restructure its debt--which reportedly surged to over $1 billion in 1999.

Tatar Public Center To Hold Protest
The nationalist organization the Tatar Public Center announced on 9 November that it would hold a demonstration against Russian military actions in Chechnya on 13 November.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi