Frontline World

Moscow - Rich in Russia, October 2003

Related Features THE STORY
Synopsis of "Rich in Russia"

The Oligarchs

Money, Power and Politics

Examining the Young and the Restless

Government, Population, Economy

Life in Russia Today and the Transition to Capitalism




How to Make a Billion Dollars
Roman Abramovich Vagit Alekperov Boris Berezovsky Oleg Deripaska Mikhail Fridman Vladimir Gusinsky Mikhail Khodorkovsky Vladimir Potanin

Vagit Alekperov Vagit Alekperov - Oil Magnate
Vagit Alekperov, 52, was born in 1950 in Baku, Azerbaijan, one of the earliest centers of the international petroleum industry. His father worked in the oil fields all his life and inspired Alekperov to follow in his footsteps. He was 18 when he landed his first job in the industry. Alekperov attended Azerbaijan Institute of Oil and Chemistry, then trained as an engineer to work in the nearby Caspian Sea oil fields. In 1979, he was sent to western Siberia, where he would later become general director of local oil and gas producer Kogalymneftgaz, a position he held until 1990. By 1991, Alekperov had established himself as an industry expert, winning an appointment as first deputy minister of fuel and energy, then as acting minister. He used his newly attained power to lobby for the consolidation of Russia's three oil producers into one company -- then assumed presidency of the new company. His nicknames, "the General," "Alek the First" and "the Don," are indicative of his indisputable authority at LUKoil, whose name came from the first letters of the three companies that consolidated-- Langepas, Urai and Kogalym. Today LUKoil is among the world's most powerful oil companies, with reserves second only to Exxon. Like many other oligarchs, Alekperov has moved into banking and media.

Estimated Worth:
$1.3 billion

Current Position:
Chairman, LUKoil

Major Holdings:

Other Interests:
Imperial Bank; in the television industry, TV-31, REN-TV, and TCN; the newsdaily Izvestia; Russian Oil magazine

Political Connections:
While acting minister of fuel and energy, Alexperov conceived of, created and secured the presidency of LUKoil.

New Plays:
In 2003, LUKoil negotiated new exploration contracts in western Iran, Egypt's Gulf of Suez, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. In 2002, LUKoil signed a six-year contract with Ecopetrol (Empresa Colombiana de Petroleos), the Colombian state oil company, to explore and produce in the Llanos petroleum basin. LUKoil also owns its own refineries and filling stations, including 1,300 in the United States, which it acquired after its purchase of Getty Oil in 2000. LUKoil was the first Russian company to acquire a publicly traded U.S. corporation.

In 1997, the Russian newsdaily Izvestia detailed allegations linking top LUKoil officials to organized crime. In a blow against press freedom, LUKoil, a major shareholder in the newspaper, promptly took over a majority on the newspaper's board and fired its top editors.

Next: Boris Berezovsky - Russia's Fallen Oligarch

Previous: Roman Abramovich - Stealth Oligarch

Photo Credits
Photo of Vagit Alekperov - Photographer/Getty Images
Photo of Vladimir Potanin - Photographer/Getty Images
Photo of Roman Abramovich - AP / Wide World Photos
Photo of Mihail Fridman - AP / Wide World Photos
Photo of Vladimir Gusinsky - AP / Wide World Photos

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