A spokesman for Russia's No. 2 oil producer, Yukos, said the company planed to start retail sales of gasoline in Estonia and Latvia, the business daily Aripaev reported.
Arturas Jonkus, Yukos' Baltic spokesman, said it was not yet clear whether Yukos would build its new network of service stations or acquire an existing one.
"A logical step for Yukos since Mazeikiu supplies petrol for all Baltic countries," says Arnout Lugtmeijer, chairman of Estonian Oil Service, a leading oil terminal.
Yukos, which recently acquired a controlling stake in the Lithuanian oil refinery Mazeikiu Nafta, is believed to be interested in buying an operating chain of service station since the Baltic market is not big enough to build one's own network.
The two gas chains which Yukos is likely to be interested in are LUKoil which has 35 station and Shell. While Yukos and LUKoil already have a joint venture, it is hard to say whether LUKoil is interested to sell to its main competitor in Russia.
Shell has announced selling its current gas stations to Statoil, but so far progress in negotiations has been slow. Both companies announced that they intended to close the deal in the autumn.
A third likely candidate is Alexela Oil, which in April sold a controlling stake to Swiss-based oil businessman Valeri Sikorski. However, Olev Karpikov who represents Sikorski, claimed that Yukos had not made an offer to Alexela Oil which has 25 service stations in Estonia.
In 2001, the net profit of Yukos, according to Russian accounting standards, was $946.9 million, and increased 312 percent. The company's fixed assets totalled $270 million.
Yukos is one of the four companies in Russia that were included in a list of the world's 500 top corporations. In the list published by The Financial Times, Yukos was 227th largest corporation in the world and the highest-ranked among Russian companies.