Chinese oil conglomerate CNPC could be offered up to 20% of a state-owned Russian firm that will own
Yuganskneftegaz, the main asset of the dismembered Yukos energy giant.

Russia's industry and energy minister Viktor Khristenko said Yuganskneftegaz's assets would be transferred to a separate company, which would be 100% state-owned. Up to 20% of this company could be offered to CNPC, he added.

Khristenko did not identify the state-owned company that would eventually own Yuganskneftegaz, which pumps a million barrels a day and owns 17% of Russia's oil reserves.

But he indicated it would not be state-owned Rosneft, which last week bought Baikalfinansgroup, the previously unknown company that paid more than $9 billion for 76.9% of Yuganskneftegaz at an uncontested auction earlier this month.

Rosneft would be merged with state-controlled energy giant Gazprom in January, the minister said, but Yuganskneftegaz would not be included in the newly created company.

Khristenko said Moscow had signed agreements with state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) allowing Russia, for example, to buy CNPC assets in accordance with bilateral 'strategic understandings' on the expansion of energy cooperation.

Both CNPC and Gazprom had expressed interest in bidding at the December 19 auction of Yuganskneftegaz but neither participated in the sale, which was won uncontested by the mysterious Baikalfinansgroup, a company registered only days before.