Layers of intrigue

The Yukos saga – up to now largely confined to the political and legal arenas – recently took a step closer to the physical oil markets with a $6 billion oil deal between China and Russia. By Stella Farrington

Yukos’ suspension of some long-term supply contracts in January, followed by a $6 billion crude deal between China and Russia – which appeared to finance Rosneft’s purchase of Yukos’ production asset Yuganskneftegaz – has brought the Yukos debacle into the physical market for the first time.

The loan in particular, which will be paid back in crude oil between now and 2010, has caused alarm among analysts, investors and rating agencies.

“There are major uncertainties regarding the terms of

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