Abkhaz Economy Minister Kristina Ozgan and Rosneft President Sergei Bogdanchikov signed an agreement
in Sukhumi on May 26 under which Rosneft acquires the rights for a period of five years to prospect for oil and natural gas off Abkhazia's Black Sea coast. Rosneft will also build a string of gas stations in Abkhazia and sell gasoline, diesel, and heating oil.
The time frame for operations will be specified during negotiations over the next two weeks between Rosneft and the Abkhaz government. No details of the financial aspects of that agreement were made public. Estimates of Abkhazia's recoverable offshore oil reserves range from 80 million tons to 200 million tons.
Bogdanchikov stressed that the projecting will not inflict any ecological damage on Abkhazia's legendary beaches, and that Rosneft is prepared to fly a large group of Abkhaz government officials, parliament deputies, opposition politicians, and journalists to Sakhalin in September for a tour of inspection of comparable operations there.
Announcing the planned deal with Rosneft on May 15, Abkhaz President Sergei Bagapsh said it entailed only exploratory work. But Ozgan was quoted on May 26 as saying that Rosneft will use the most modern technologies to extract those oil and gas reserves.
Visiting Moscow in September 2005, Bagapsh announced that Abkhazia had rejected a proposal by LUKoil to develop Abkhazia's offshore oil reserves, but was continuing discussions with other, unnamed oil companies.
There has been no reaction to date to the May 26 announcement
from the Abkhaz opposition parties who last week issued several denunciations of Bagapsh's imputed unwarranted economic concessions to Russia.