British Petroleum has been told by Russian officials that its local joint venture operation has violated agreements regarding an east Siberian development project, leaving its license under threat, the Financial Times has reported.
<p>In a move that is reminiscent of the recent saga involving Moscow and Shell's Sakhalin gas project, which ended in Gazprom taking a controlling share, British Petroleum's (BP) Russian joint venture, TNK-BP, has been informed that it has broken agreements relating to its Kovykta, east Siberian gas field project and that it has three months to resolve the issue or face the possibility of losing its license to operate. <br /><br />Such is the similarity with the dispute that erupted over Shell's Sakhalin program that industry onlookers have quickly interpreted the warning by the Russian natural resources ministry as the first throes in the Kremlin's latest attempt to take control of a domestic energy project from a foreign operator. <br /><br />The Financial Times reports that, once again, Russian state-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom is being lined up as a new major partner in the Kovykta project, a move that BP would apparently welcome. However, while the UK company has looked to broker a deal to bring Gazprom into its Siberian operation, the two sides have not been able to agree terms.<br /><br />The development comes just months after TNK-BP faced tax problems in Russia that threatened its future, which has led some to even speculate that Moscow is maneuvering to gain control of the whole company.</p>