- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 9, 2006

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian prosecutors said yesterday that they had opened a criminal investigation into the role of an unnamed executive with BP PLC’s Russian joint venture, just days after the Prosecutors General’s Office said it was seeking to annul licenses held by one of the venture’s subsidiaries.

The move is yet another step against TNK-BP, which BP owns jointly with a group of Russian billionaires, and comes as the Kremlin is seeking to increase its say in the strategic oil and gas sector.

According to a statement on the prosecutors’ Web site, the head of TNK-BP’s Rospan division, which operates licenses to develop deep gas fields in the Northern Yamalo-Nenets region, was being investigated for apparently profiting from violating licensing agreements.

The statement did not name the official, and TNK-BP representative Marina Dracheva said the company didn’t know who the person was, as did a representative from the prosecutors’ office.

On Tuesday, prosecutors sent a letter to the federal subsoil agency asking for Rospan’s licenses to the Novo-Urengoyskoye and Vostochno-Urengoyskoye gas fields to be revoked due to environmental and licensing violations.

Earlier in the month, prosecutors had challenged TNK-BP’s license to develop the massive Siberian Kovykta gas field, again over complaints that the company was violating its license terms and not meeting planned production levels.

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