Russian-Belarus oil firm Slavneft has said it would on January 15 sign a production sharing agreement with the Sudanese government on developing an oilfield in the African country. Slavneft said it was ready to start exploration works on the ninth oil and gas block in central Sudan in February–March 2002 and to invest up to USD 126 million in the project. Slavneft said earlier it had been offered data on the ninth and 11th blocks in central Sudan, as well as the 15th, offshore block in the Red Sea, but gave no details on their reserves. It said it was also considering a stake in the international consortium exploring the Melut basin in southern Sudan. The consortium includes Qatar’s Gulf Petroleum, China’s CNPC and Sudan’s state oil firm Sudapec.