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Daily Telegraph: Ruling on BP licence in Siberia due today

BP Chief Tony Hayward

By Russell Hotten
Last Updated: 12:12am BST 01/06/2007

BP chief executive Tony Hayward has held talks with his counterpart at Russian energy monopoly Gazprom ahead of a meeting today that could decide the fate of the UK company’s involvement in the huge Kovykta gas field in Siberia.

The agency that awards licences for exploration and development is due to decide whether to strip BP’s joint venture in Russia, TNK-BP, of the right to operate at the gas field, a project that would be a huge revenue earner for the UK company. Separately, the agency Rosnedra is also to consider revoking licences for UK firm Imperial Energy.

Gazprom has no stake in Kovykta, but the Kremlin appears to have a strategy to see Russia’s vast energy assets return to state control. The Kovykta affair has echoes of Royal Dutch Shell’s experience at Sakhalin-2, where after months of pressure the Anglo-Dutch company relinquished control of the project to Gazprom.

BP said Mr Hayward met Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller yesterday to discuss “their many areas of mutual business”. A BP spokesman would not say if Kovykta was on the agenda. Mr Hayward was in Moscow for a TNK-BP board meeting that had been planned several months ago, he said.

Meanwhile, Rosnedra said it would review three licences given to Imperial, plus those awarded to several other firms.

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