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08/06/1998 21:57:44 World Bank details Gazprom reorganization plans

WASHINGTON, Aug 6 (Reuters) - A document underpinning a $1.5

billion World Bank loan to Russia envisages changes at natural gas

monopoly RAO Gazprom, including moves to allow independent

producers access to Russian pipelines.

The document, distributed at a World Bank news conference,

said the changes aimed to make the natural gas industry more

efficient and more accountable.

Gazprom would reorganize its regional transmission operations

and operate transmission, supply and production enterprises as

separate cost units. New tax regimes would be introduced for the

sector.

The bank said the overreaching goal of the proposed changes

was "to promote efficiency in the natural gas industry, achieve

greater transparency and accountability in the operations of

Gazprom, and facilitate pipeline access for independent gas

producers, including those who are now flaring gas."

Bank officials said future payments from the loan would

depend on progress in restructuring Gazprom and on other

changes. Russia received $300 million from the loan on Thursday

and a $500 million payment is due tentatively in December.

The document, which the World Bank said was agreed in the

middle of last month, also provides for better access for

foreign or independent producers to Russian gas markets.

Other measures would improve the efficiency of the oil

sector, including an audit of pipeline firm Transneft.

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