The Russian government has moved closer to stripping oil company TNK-BP of its licence to operate the Kovykta gas field in East Siberia. An arbitration court judge has rejected the company’s attempt to stop the authorities from taking away the licence. The judge ruled the matter was out of his jurisdiction.
Industry analysts said this is the latest move in Moscow’s drive to consolidate major energy resources under state control. They think it is intended to pressure the group of Russian billionaires who own the other half of TNK-BP to sell out to a Kremlin-controlled firm which would become BP’s partner.
Kovykta has enough reserves to supply the entire world’s gas needs for almost a year. The authorities’ complaint is that not enough gas is being produced from the field. TNK-BP’s response is that it cannot produce more as the mostly state owned firm GazProm, which controls licences to export gas will not grant it one.