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AFX News Limited: TNK-BP Kovykta license row could be resolved by involving Gazprom – minister

MOSCOW (Thomson Financial) – The ongoing dispute between the Russian government and BP’s Russian joint venture TNK-BP over the Kovykta gas project licence could be resolved by Russia’s state gas monopoly Gazprom taking a stake in the project, Natural Resources Minister Yuri Trutnev said, cited by Russian news agencies.

Russian authorities are accusing the Kovykta operator, Rusia Petroleum, (held 62.4 pct by TNK-BP (nyse: BP – news – people ), 25.8 pct by the Russian group Interros and 11.2 pct by the Irkutsk provincial government), of not producing as much gas as it had undertaken to do when its licence was granted — 9 bln cubic metres per year.

‘If the problem of the Kovykta gas being put into Gazprom’s system can be resolved, that would enable the licence to be reexamined,’ said Trutnev, quoted by Itar-Tass.

‘If they resolve this problem by including Gazprom in the project or in another way, this problem will be resolved,’ said Trutnev, cited by Interfax.

However in the view of foreign investors, the Kovykta dispute is reminiscent of the Sakhalin-2 project, where Royal Dutch Shell (nyse: RDSA – news – people ) lost control of the Siberian oil and gas project to Gazprom last December after the Russian authorities threatened to withdraw its licence for environmental reasons.

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