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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

$1Bln Tax Bill Feeds New Yukos Anxiety

Yukos, which last month lost its largest unit to the government, said tax claims against its Samara-based subsidiary rose to 29 billion rubles ($1 billion) as the state makes demands on its remaining businesses.

Samaraneftegaz's bank accounts and assets remain frozen, Yukos spokesman Yevgeny Fokin said Tuesday.

He declined to comment on an Interfax report that Samaraneftegaz may be sold off by June, citing an unidentified Samaraneftegaz employee. Yukos' shares fell 8.8 percent to 18.20 rubles.

State-run Rosneft is taking over Yuganskneftegaz, a former Yukos unit that extracts 11 percent of Russia's oil, giving the government a degree of control over energy not seen since the Soviet Union fell apart in 1991. Russia is the world's second-biggest oil supplier behind Saudi Arabia. Yukos, Russia's largest oil exporter in 2004, may be dismembered by further forced sales, analysts said.

"The government won't be satisfied with what they've got," said Stephen Dashevsky, head of research and Moscow-based brokerage Aton Capital.

"Their goal remains the complete transfer of Yukos' key operating assets into state hands. Yugansk was only the beginning."

Tomskneft and Samaraneftegaz now produce almost all of Yukos' oil. In the first half of 2004, Tomskneft produced about 357,700 barrels a day of crude, or 21 percent of Yukos' output, and Samaraneftegaz extracted about 250,000 barrels a day, or 15 percent, according to Yukos' web site. Yugansk produced more than 1 million barrels a day in that period.

Yelena Tolgskaya, head of the Federal Tax Service's press service, was not immediately available to comment.

Russia has filed claims against Yukos for about $27 billion in back taxes, some of which Yukos has paid. The government sold Yuganskneftegaz last month for $9.3 billion to cover some of the claims.

Yukos last week told customers abroad it may start missing crude deliveries after the sale of Yugansk, which accounted for 60 percent of Yukos' oil output. Interfax reported Jan. 21 that Yukos has stopped exporting crude oil through pipelines, citing an unidentified Industry and Energy Ministry official.

This month's disruption to millions of barrels of oil exports is the biggest yet during the government's battle with Yukos, which has lasted more than a year.

The sale of another Yukos asset in a manner similar to the Yugansk auction would increase concerns about political risk among investors, said Tim McCarthy, who manages $620 million in Russian assets, including an "inconsequential" amount of Yukos shares, for Troika Dialog in Moscow.

"The fact we still don't know who financed the $9.3 billion Yugansk purchase is a little scary," he said. "That's a lot of money not to know where it came from."

Tomskneft, Yukos' largest production unit after the government forcibly sold Yuganskneftegaz last month, paid off 2.3 billion rubles in back taxes for 2002, after regaining access to its bank accounts Monday, Fokin said.

"I'd prefer that neither Samaraneftegaz nor Tomskneft were sold," Fokin said Tuesday. "Tomskneft is more attractive in terms of its reserves."