Rosgeologia holds a small share of the Russian market for seismic and geophysical services; its margin for profit, according to the state auditor, is just above breakeven. Yet Rosgeo, as it is known, announced in September what should be a new record for Russian state investment in SA, drilling six wells into the seabed off the South African coast at a cost of almost $400m, earning the right to sell billions of dollars in gas. When they met hours later at the Brics summit in China, President Vladimir Putin and President Jacob Zuma ignored the deal. The three top officials of Rosgeo refuse to explain the contract. When one of them, Rosgeo CE Roman Panov, spoke at length about his company’s prospects in an interview with a Moscow newspaper, the South African offshore oil and gas project wasn’t mentioned. The reason, Moscow sources say, is that they are sceptical that Rosgeo has the resources to implement the deal or that the Russian state banks will accept the risk of South African de...

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