updated 9/28/2005 7:59:16 AM ET 2005-09-28T11:59:16

The world’s biggest natural-gas producer, Gazprom, has agreed to purchase the Sibneft oil company for $13.01 billion, the companies announced Wednesday.

The deal will significantly further state-controlled Gazprom’s stature in the oil sector as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin moves to recapture state influence in the lucrative energy industry.

The companies said a deal had been struck between Gazprom and Sibneft’s owner, Millhouse Capital, a holding company controlled by billionaire Chelsea soccer club owner Roman Abramovich.

Western banks are reportedly ready to offer a $12 billion loan to fund the deal — the largest such loan in Russia’s post-Soviet history.

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