Linc Seeks to Expand Partnership With Billionaire Abramovich

Linc Energy Ltd. is looking to expand its partnership with Roman Abramovich, after announcing a deal today with the billionaire owner of Chelsea Football Club to evaluate a gas-to-liquids fuel development in Russia.

Abramovich acquired a stake in Linc late last year, Peter Bond, chief executive officer of the Brisbane-based company, said today in a phone interview. He declined to say how much Abramovich purchased.

“We think there are probably a number of opportunities we can work on together,” Bond said.

Linc and a unit of Abramovich’s Ervington Investments Ltd. reached an agreement to cooperate on a project to produce liquid fuels to help the Chukotka region of Russia decrease its reliance on imports, assuming they find suitable coal resources, Linc said today. The Australian company is developing a technology known as underground coal gasification.

“We hope this announcement is the beginning of a long and productive partnership, so I wouldn’t rule out other projects in the future,” John Mann, a spokesman for Abramovich’s Moscow-based investment company Millhouse LLC, said today in an e-mailed response to questions.

Shares of Linc rose 2.5 percent to close at A$1.215 in Sydney, reversing a loss of as much as 5.1 percent earlier in the day. Australia’s benchmark index dropped 2.1 percent.

Shale Oil Prospects

Separately, Linc has been in discussions to find a partner to develop shale oil prospects in central Australia. The company, which announced earlier this year that it hired Barclays Plc to help with the process, expects to narrow the talks to one group in a “few weeks,” Bond said. Linc is talking with at least four parties from outside Australia interested in the shale oil project in the Arckaringa Basin, he said.

Linc has said that the characteristics of its Australian acreage “compare favorably” to the prolific Bakken and Eagle Ford shale regions of the U.S. Any partner would follow global energy companies including Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips, Statoil ASA and BG Group Plc in making shale investments in Australia.

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