PetroVietnam Chair Dinh La Thang is seeking endorsement from prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung to sell shares in the Dung Quat refinery to foreign investors, reported the Dau Tu newspaper, which is published by the Ministry of Planning and Investment. Foreign companies including India's Essar, Royal Dutch Shell, and Russia's Zarubeznhep and Rosneft have been in talks with PetroVietnam to buy shares in the refinery, the newspaper said.

The Dung Quat refinery will receive crude oil from the Bach Ho oilfields in the south of Vietnam for its operations, it said. However, as crude oil reserves at the Bach Ho oilfields are gradually being depleted, PetroVietnam wants to sell Dung Quat shares to foreign investors who will be capable of securing stable and long-term crude supply contracts for the refinery, it added.

The PetroVietnam official didn't say how many shares the company wants to sell, but Vietnam law allows foreigners to hold a maximum 49% in a domestic company, according to the report.

Dow Jones - September 9, 2008