Russian state-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom is believed to interested in acquiring facilities to further its research into hydrogen applications.

The company is apparently considering a bid to take control of the assets of the bankrupt Yukos oil company, according to one of Yuko's appointed bankruptcy officials. Leading nickel company Rosneft is also in the race, as are several other Central Asian, American and Europe based companies.

While both Gazprom and Rosneft are thought to be targeting Yukos' main production and refining assets, Norilsk Nickel spokesman Viktor Borodin said the company had Yukos' research and development center in its sights to bolster its fledgling hydrogen energy division. Similar rumours have emanated from Gazprom's operations.

$quot;It has highly qualified scientific staff. ... We are considering the use of this centre in developing hydrogen energy,$quot; Borodin said. However, he noted that a decision to sell the centre had yet to be made by the liquidators.

In June 2006, Norilsk Nickel bought 35 percent of U.S. based Plug Power Inc., which produces equipment for hydrogen power engineering.