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International Herald Tribune: Russian ministry says not seeking to revoke Total’s license at Kharyaga oil field

The Associated Press
Published: October 12, 2006
MOSCOW A top government official said Thursday that Russia was not seeking to revoke French company Total SA’s license to tap the Kharyaga oil field, Russian news agencies reported.
Natural Resources Minister Yuri Trutnev spoke amid widespread probes of Western-led energy developments that analysts says are an attempt to secure a bigger role for Russian companies.
The reports quoted Trutnev as saying that no work was under way to revoke Total’s license. A statement in September by the head of the ministry’s government policy department that said that the license was being officially reviewed for possible cancellation due to underdevelopment.
But Trutnev appeared to stress that checks under way at Kharyaga and elsewhere were routine. “General monitoring is being conducted, it is being conducted with many companies and is aimed at making sure the licenses are fulfilled,” he was quoted as saying.
Total has a 50 percent interest in Kharyaga, while Norway’s Norsk Hydro has 40 percent. An oil company controlled by the regional government holds 10 percent.
Western investors have been rattled by a series of moves by authorities at large oil and gas developments controlled by foreign companies. In September, Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s saw its environmental permit suspended amid allegations of serious environmental violations at its giant Sakhalin-2 liquefied natural gas project.
Soon after, prosecutors warned BP PLC’s local joint venture that its Kovykta natural gas field was pumping less gas than agreed in the original 1994 license and the company could see its license pulled. Exxon Mobil Corp.’s Sakhalin-1 project is also undergoing an environmental review.
The probes provoked an international outcry and have been interpreted as a move by the government to rejig old energy agreements — signed when state coffers were empty and investment was desperately needed — to better suit Russian companies.
Russia’s natural gas monopoly OAO Gazprom is negotiating to join the Shell project in an asset swap deal. Meanwhile BP needs Gazprom’s permission to send gas from Kovykta to China, which the monopoly has so far refused in what analysts have said is a hardball tactic to secure control of the field. and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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