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Guardian Unlimited: Russian warning

Terry Macalister
Monday May 21, 2007

The latest clean power proposal was launched as BP was issued with another warning about the potential fate of a more traditional gas scheme in Siberia.

A Russian environmental watchdog said TNK-BP could lose its rights to develop the giant Kovykta gas field before June.

“The inspection will take a couple of days and we will check only one thing – whether they comply with production obligations. The results of the inspection seem obvious to me,” deputy head of the environmental agency Oleg Mitvol told Reuters.

“Then the documents will go to (licence regulator) Rosnedra and be put in for the next commission on licence withdrawal. So it (licence withdrawal) could happen before June,”he said.

The pressure on Kovykta is seen by many analysts as part of a broader state plan to force Russian billionaire shareholders to sell half their TNK-BP stake to a state company, something the shareholders have repeatedly denied. The firm earlier this month won the right to challenge in court the threat to its Kovykta licence but has declined to comment.

Mr Mitvol said he was not concerned by the court challenge: “They have yet to win the case and I hope the court takes a just decision.”

The watchdog led the state’s environmental pressure on Royal Dutch/Shell’s Sakhalin-2 oil and gas group last year until the group agreed to sell a controlling stake to Gazprom for $7.45bn. The pressure quickly subsided after the sale.

http://business.guardian.co.uk/story/0,,2084859,00.html

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