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Chief engineer at BP unit in Siberia is slain

Blomberg/AP, International Herald Tribune
The chief engineer at a Siberian subsidiary of the oil company BP’s Russian joint venture, TNK-BP, was found shot and killed in Irkutsk over the weekend, the venture confirmed Monday.

TNK-BP had been informed of the killing of the engineer, Enver Ziganshin, according to Marina Dracheva, a spokeswoman for the venture, which controls Rusia Petroleum. But she declined to provide further comment. No one was available to comment at Rusia- Petroleum’s headquarters.

Ziganshin, 49, was found by his wife in a sauna on Saturday and he had been shot three times including once in the head, the news agency RIA Novosti reported, citing a representative of the local police. The Irkutsk prosecutors are investigating whether the murder was a contract killing,Interfax reported.

TNK-BP, half-owned by BP, owns 63 percent of Rusia Petroleum, which is developing the $18 billion Kovykta natural-gas project in Siberia.
(2 Oct 2006)
A Moscow court recently ruled that TNK-BP owed $130 million in back taxes. The Financial Times reported last week that

Gazprom, Russia’s gas monopoly, on Thursday confirmed its interest in buying a stake in TNK-BP in an apparent bear hug on the private Russian shareholders in the 50:50 Anglo-Russian oil joint venture. The move would mark further consolidation of oil assets in state hands ahead of the 2008 presidential elections. The move comes amid mounting pressure on BP’s Russian venture over its licence to develop the giant Kovykta gas field in Eastern Siberia.


Russian oil grab ‘puts western supplies at risk’

Terry Macalister, The Guardian
A former government adviser has warned it is “only a matter of time” before BP or Shell faces a bid from a Russian state-owned group such as Gazprom which could threaten western oil supplies.
(2 Oct 2006)
Based on Peter Odell’s remarks and very similar to a MosNews article we included in yesterday’s geopolitics headlines.

Russian giant sweeps into US towns with a $35mn campaign

The Gulf Times
Like many New Jersey motorists, Kevin Teeter had never heard of Lukoil until his local gas pump began sporting the name last month.

Now, he couldn’t escape the Russian oil company’s presence if he tried. Almost overnight, gas outlets boasting its name in a splash of red and white have begun multiplying across the state’s car-clogged highways and suburbs.

Bolstered by ambitions to grab a foothold in America and take on better-known gasoline brands like Mobil and BP, Lukoil is in the midst of a $35mn campaign to stamp its name prominently across a vast network of US gas stations.

In just a few years, the company has quietly built up a fleet of nearly 2,000 gas outlets in 13 states along the US East Coast by taking over Getty Petroleum and later, pumps shed by ConocoPhillips.
(3 Oct 2006)

Environment cop puts the screws to Shell’s Sakhalin

Dario Thuburnb, The Globe and Mail
Sirens scream, jeeps roar past, helicopters prepare for takeoff. Russia’s flamboyant environmental enforcer Oleg Mitvol is in town.

Mr. Mitvol’s mission this time may be his biggest yet: to halt a €15.8-billion ($20-billion U.S.) energy project led by British oil giant Royal Dutch Shell PLC on Russia’s eastern edge.

“Sakhalin Energy is treating us like a banana republic,” Mr. Mitvol said Friday on a helicopter tour to a section of oil and gas pipelines that run like a scar down 800 kilometres of the energy-rich island of Sakhalin.

Russian officials and campaigners say the pipelines break a series of laws by causing erosion, silting up rivers and running illegal access roads through dense forest.
(2 Oct 2006)
The Jamestown Foundation’s take: Sakhalin oil and gas projects: what is behind Russia’s coercive behavior?

Gazprom starts to build pipelines connecting Russia and China

China Knowledge
Russian energy giant Gazprom OAO will start building a natural gas pipeline that will connect Russia and China, reported Xinhua news agency yesterday.

The western gas pipeline is considered the main gas route connecting the gas reserves in Russia’s West Siberia to West China’s provinces, bypassing the Republic of Altai.
(4 Oct 2006)