TNK-BP Warned on 'Violations'

The government warned a unit of TNK-BP that it might lose oil-production rights after "gross violations" of licensing terms were found during an inspection.

The Federal Service for the Inspection of Natural Resources Use, the state's environmental watchdog, identified 33 breaches of contract at TNK-BP's Varyeganneftegaz, the Natural Resources Ministry said Wednesday in an e-mailed statement.

"Inspectors found some insignificant violations," Marina Dracheva, a spokeswoman for TNK-BP, said by telephone. "Not a single violation found could be grounds for license revocation."

Varyeganneftegaz produced around 61,000 barrels of oil per day in the first quarter, about 4 percent of TNK-BP's average of 1.36 million barrels, according to the Industry and Energy Ministry.

A ministry commission will now consider whether the infractions, including a failure to meet production targets and keep proper documentation, are sufficient to revoke Varyeganneftegaz licenses in western Siberia.

"We pledged to remove all violations in the shortest period of time," Dracheva said.

Vedomosti reported on April 24 that Gazprom might pay $20 billion for control of TNK-BP. The billionaire Russian owners of TNK-BP said the same day that they "have not held and are not holding" talks about selling.