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Russian agency clears TNK-BP ecology compliance

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The Guardian: Russian agency clears TNK-BP ecology compliance

Reuters, Tuesday April 22 2008
(Adds background on TNK-BP, woes)

MOSCOW, April 22 (Reuters) – Russia’s environmental agency said on Tuesday it found no major violations at BP’s Russian venture TNK-BP’s main production sites in Siberia after a broad inspection, dispelling fears the watchdog was mounting state pressure on the troubled firm.

“The inspection is over. We found a few cases of non-compliance, which are not serious,” Konstantin Tsypko, advisor to the head of the RosPrirodNadzor agency, told Reuters.

The inspection was led by Oleg Mitvol, who two years ago led a campaign against Royal Dutch Shell on the Pacific island of Sakhalin, effectively forcing the firm to sell out to state gas export monopoly Gazprom.

TNK-BP’s clear result — which the ministry of natural resources had said was a routine check — could quieten long-running suspicion that state pressure over recent months on Russia’s No. 3 oil firm was part of the Kremlin’s tightening grip over its strategic energy sector.

TNK-BP, which is half owned by both BP and a group of Russian billionaires, had its offices raided last month by the Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the Soviet KGB, and an employee was arrested on an industrial espionage charge.

Analysts have said the state is putting pressure on TNK-BP’s Russian shareholders to sell out to a large state company such as Gazprom or oil major Rosneft, though the owners and BP have repeatedly denied this.

(Reporting by Ekaterina Golubkova, writing by Amie Ferris-Rotman, Editing by Margaret Orgill)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/feedarticle?id=7477986

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