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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Watchdog Targets U.S. Firm's License

The Natural Resources Ministry's environmental agency said Friday it would seek the withdrawal of a license held by U.S. oil producer Transmeridian Exploration as regulators turn their attention to smaller foreign energy companies.

Spot checks at Transmeridian's Gasha oil field in Dagestan uncovered "serious violations" by Transmeridian venture DNK, the Natural Resources Ministry said in a statement.

Later in the day, Transmeridian denied reports that it received official notification about any violations.

The company, which indirectly owns a 50 percent interest in the field, said it had conducted a base study of the environmental damages resulting from previous development work conducted from 1950 through 1975. It added that its current work program submitted to the government provides for remediation of these damages. Transmeridian said on July 20 that it had found oil and gas.

The agency will probe units of at least six foreign oil firms for compliance with licensing terms, it said last week.

"We're checking whether the licensing agreements are being fulfilled," agency deputy head Oleg Mitvol said. "If the companies are not drilling on schedule, if they're not exploring their fields, if the fields are just sitting there, then according to the subsoil law, the licenses should be withdrawn."

The probe includes the firms Transmeridian, Lundin Petroleum, Arawak Energy, Urals Energy, JKX Oil & Gas and Timan Oil & Gas.

Bloomberg, Reuters