10 Sep 2010 12:25

Uzbek court rules bankruptcy on two JVs Gazprom involved with

TASHKENT. Sept 10 (Interfax) - Uzbekistan's Kashkadarya regional business court has instituted bankruptcy proceedings against the joint ventures Kokdumalak-Gaz and Gissarneftegaz, co-founder of which is Gas Project Development Central Asia AG - a subsidiary of Gazprom Germania GmbH.

Announcement of the commencement of proceedings was published in the Uzbek media Thursday by the State Committee for De-Monopolization, Support for Competition and Entrepreneurship.

The statement says the court's September 7 decision included the appointment of temporary outside management for both JVs. The first creditors meeting for Kokdumalak-Gaz is slated for October 15, that for Gissarneftegaz - October 16.

The suit that ended in the bankruptcy proceedings was brought by the Uzbek tax authorities, a source in government circles told Interfax. He did not specify the amount of tax claims involved, but said, "It's a very large amount."

Kokdumalak-Gaz was set up in 2004 with the intent of utilizing associated gases at the Kokdumalak deposits, which earlier were simply flared off. The JV's project capacity allows it to utilize and compress more than 6 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas.

Gissarneftegaz was created in 2005. It works in geological prospecting and exploratory work, along with oil and gas extraction. The joint venture holds a license to do prospecting-exploratory work in the Tagam-Shimolaya Tandyrchinskaya zone in Gissar region and developing the gas condensate deposits Severny Nishan, Kamashi, Beshkent, Severny Guzar, and Shakarbulak in the Bukharo-Khivin oil and gas region.

According to Arch Energy Ltd, a co-found of JVs Kokdumalak-Gaz and Gissarneftegaz, the shareholders in the former right now are unitary subsidiary enterprise UDP Mubarekneftegaz (a subsidiary of national holding company NKhK Uzbekneftegaz) with 50%, Gas Project Development Central Asia AG with 25%, Zeromax GmbH of Switzerland with 12.5%, and Arch Energy Ltd with 12.5%.

The shareholders in Gissarneftegaz are the unitary subsidiary enterprise UDP Shurtanneftegaz (a subsidiary of Uzbekneftegaz) with 50%, Gas Project Development Asia AG with 40%, Zeromax GmbH with 5% and Arch Energy Ltd with 5%.

During the initial phase, the co-founders of both JVs were subsidiary structures of NKhK Uzbekneftegaz and Zeromax GmbH.

Independent experts see the tax problems at both JVs as being tied in with the seizing of Zeromax assets.