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Putin calms Hydro concerns

December 4, 2003, 00:00 CET

Russia's President Vladimir Putin assured Hydro chief Eivind Reiten that his country will continue economic reforms during a meeting in Moscow on Tuesday.

Putin gave "clear and strong assurances" that Russia is committed to the economic reform process, Reiten told Norwegian business daily Dagens Næringsliv.

Hydro's president and CEO travelled to Moscow this week with about five other Western European company tops in a delegation representing the European Round Table - a forum of around 45 European industrial leaders promoting the competitiveness and growth of Europe's economy. The group met with both Putin and Russia's Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov.

"We received very clear and strong assurances from the president that the reforms he and his team have stood for will be carried out," Reiten commented.

Hydro does approximately USD 1 billion worth of trade with Russia each year. Company activities in the country include a joint venture with Russia Aluminium (Rusal) to modernize its production plant in Sayanogorsk, in south-east Russia.

Hydro also holds a 40 percent stake in the Kharyaga oil field in north-west Russia, which is undergoing an upgrade to boost daily output to 30,000 barrels of oil per day. It is also keen to play a larger role in development of the enormous Shotkman gas field, offshore north-west Russia in the Barents Sea. The field is one of the world's biggest with reserves of 3.2 trillion cubic meters of gas - three-times larger than Norway's Troll gas field.