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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Minister: Hurry Up, TNK-BP

TNK-BP must start developing the $18 billion Kovykta gas project in Siberia or risk losing the license to the field, Natural Resources Minister Yury Trutnev said Thursday.

"We can't wait forever," Trutnev told reporters. "Time is passing, and Russia is losing out on jobs, taxes and gross domestic product."

TNK-BP has not reached an agreement with Gazprom, the country's natural gas export and pipeline monopoly, on exporting fuel from the untapped field to Asian markets. Kovykta holds 2 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, enough to power all of Asia for six years.

"They haven't been able to move forward because they have no infrastructure," Trutnev said. "We have looked at this from TNK- BP's position."

TNK-BP plans to start pumping natural gas from the field next year and supplying the Siberian region where it is located, "as we committed to under our license," a company spokesman, Vladimir Bobylev, said in a telephone interview.

Trutnev said in September his ministry was reviewing TNK-BP's compliance with its license. BP has had no response from the ministry on documents it submitted in September, Bobylev said.

BP CEO John Browne met President Vladimir Putin last month in the Kremlin, where the executive reiterated the joint venture's commitment to invest and develop oil and gas projects in Russia.