Siberian Court Freezes Shares Of Yukos Subsidiary

Late last week a Siberian court froze shares in a subsidiary of OAO Yukos, which it holds through its Sakhaneftegaz unit, Vedomosti reported Monday.

Yukos acquired a controlling stake in Sakhaneftegaz, an east Siberian oil operator, in 2002. Sakhaneftegaz owns 85.5% of the subsidiary in question - Lenaneftegaz - of which 50% was frozen, the paper reported.

The shares were frozen in relation to a dispute between Lenaneftegaz and a pipeline subcontractor over payment for construction.

However, analysts say the court ruling can be tied back to the Russian government's wide-ranging legal probe into Yukos and its major shareholders.

In addition, observers say the ruling might be a way to force Lenaneftegaz to sell equipment located on a huge oil field it was developing last year before regulators took its license away. The license to the field is now held by rival oil company OAO Surgutneftegaz.