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Daily Telegraph: BP at risk of losing Siberian gas licence

By Roland Gribben
Last Updated: 1:02am BST 29/05/2007

BP and its Russian partners could be stripped of the licence to operate the huge Kovykta gasfield in Siberia this week, according to Russian officials.

Rosnedra, Russia’s licence regulator, meets on Friday and a spokesman said that discussion of the ”early withdrawal” of the licence will be on the agenda.

The ”crunch” meeting folows another setback for the TNK-BP partnership. An arbitration court in Irkutsk yessterday threw out a suit brought by the partners to halt attempts by Russian government agencies to take away its operating licence.

Valery Titov, the presiding judge, said that the case was considered outside the court’s jurisdiction.

Two Russian environmental agencies are pressing for the removal of the licence on the grounds the partners failed to meet production targets.

Meanwhile, Shell has been pressured into surrendering control of the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas development and BP is now in the firing line over Kovykta, where analysts say the groundwork is being laid for Gazprom, the Russian state gas giant, to take control.

The TNK-BP partnership has a 63pc stake in the field through its Rusia Petroleum arm which holds the licence and is expected to appeal against the Irkutsk court’s decision.

Analysts feel the Kremlin wants to see the Russian investors in the partnership ceding their interest and keep BP on board with a 25pc stake.

BP hoped to use the Kovykta field for exports to China but says it has been unable to meet the output targets because of Gazprom intervention.

Under the licensing terms, Kovykta production should have reached 9bn cubic metres last year but is running at 1bn. and its also non-profit sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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