5 Feb 2010 12:49

Trutnev orders regulator to inspect Kovykta

MOSCOW. Feb 5 (Interfax) - Natural resources watchdog Rosprirodnadzor will conduct a check on compliance with the terms of resource use at the big Kovykta gas field in Irkutsk region under an instruction from Natural Resources and Ecology Minister Yury Trutnev.

"The results of the inspection will be forwarded to Rosnedra for examination by the commission empowered to revoke resource use rights," the ministry said in a statement.

The inspection will take about two weeks, Rosprirodnadzor told Interfax.

Citing its CEO Alexei Miller, Gazprom announced on Thursday that it did not need the resources of TNK-BP's Kovykta gas condensate deposits for organizing large-scale gas exports to Pacific Rim countries. TNK-BP co-owner Viktor Vekselberg had earlier said about the deposits, "Kovykta will seriously surprise you in the future, I think."

TNK-BP was negotiating the sale of Kovykta to Gazprom, but details of the deal ran the talks into a blind alley. They were further complicated by conflict between TNK-BP shareholders, and the developing financial crisis finally killed Gazprom's interest in the asset.

Two years ago, the Subsurface Resources Agency (Rosnedra) revoked RUSIA Petroleum's license to Kovykta over non-compliance with timing requirements for developing the deposits and insufficient extraction volume. RUSIA Petroleum was obligated in 2006 to supply 9 billion cubic meters of gas to the Irkutsk region. The company argued that the region did not consume that amount, although it stood ready to start extracting and supplying gas.