Russia Eyes US Oil Market, Seeks More American Investment

By Sergei Blagov | July 7, 2008 | 8:16 PM EDT

Moscow ( - Russian President Vladimir Putin Saturday pledged to supply more oil to the American market, while at the same time urging more U.S. investment in Russia.

Meeting with top executives from U.S. corporations, Putin said Russia would continue to expand output of oil and natural gas and expected to ship 50 million tons of oil annually to the U.S.

"We will step up the extraction of oil and gas, increase energy exports and expand cooperation with the leading companies, including [those in] the U.S., in our mainland, on the Barents Sea shelf, on the Sakhalin Island and other regions," he said.

Putin said the increases would contribute to global and American economic and energy stability.

Last October, Russia announced plans to ship 40 million tons of LNG from Sakhalin island in Russia's Far East to the U.S. over 20 years, starting in 2008.

Putin met at the weekend with top executives from Citigroup, ConocoPhillips, Alcoa and IBM at the Konstantinovsky Palace near St. Petersburg.

Alcoa Chief Executive Alan Belda told journalists after the meeting that the U.S. firms would "continue to invest in Russia."

Putin told his guests that his government would "continue work to improve Russia's investment climate" and would strengthening the judicial system.

He asserted that Russia's economic and political situation was stable - with growth at 5.5 percent this year, "higher than average world rates" -- and expressed the hope that U.S.-Russian trade could be doubled "in coming years."

Putin complained about what he said were "restrictions and obstacles hampering global interaction of our economies, including the notorious Jackson-Vanick amendment, which is still effective."

Introduced in the Soviet era, the amendment effectively denies unconditional normal trade relations to countries including Russia, which had non-market economies and restricted emigration rights.

The Russian leader also cited U.S. sanctions against Russian space companies and provisions of the Iran Nonproliferation Act, saying they were obstacles hindering better interaction.

Putin said when he meets with President Bush at next month's G8 summit, he would urge him to meet with leading Russian businessmen.

His meeting with top American executives was followed by a similar encounter with German business leaders a day later

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