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TNK-BP on the Brink

Russia’s natural resources ministry has just announced that TNK-BP has indeed committed numerous violations in its development of the Kovykta gas field. Don’t say we didn’t warn you – here comes Sakhalin part deux. From the FT:

The setback comes just two months after Royal Dutch Shell was forced to cede control of its Sakhalin-2 venture to state-controlled Gazprom after months of pressure from the same agency over alleged environmental violations. Gazprom has long been eying a stake in Kovykta. But talks over its participation in the field appear to have reached deadlock. Alexander Medvedev, Gazprom’s deputy chief executive, last month said a recent TNK-BP statement that it could reach a deal with Gazprom on its participation in the first half of the year was “over-optimistic”. The mounting pressure over Kovykta is seen by many as part of a broader state plan to gain control of TNK-BP itself. Analysts say TNK-BP’s Russian shareholders are preparing to sell their stakes to a state-controlled energy major such as Gazprom or Rosneft this year when a moratorium on ownership changes expires.