Russia Orders Shell, Lukoil, Yukos to Sign New Agreements

Russia's ministry of natural resources said Tuesday it has completed an investigation of licenses held by Yukos, Lukoil and Shell at three separate oilfields with a demand that investors sign new agreements for each project. License compliance at all big deposits where there is as yet no production has been under examination by the ministry for some months.

The ministry wants supplementary agreements defining timetables and other conditions drawn up at Yukos' Tersko Kamovsky field in the Evenkiya region of East Siberia and Lukoil's Yushno Khylchuyuskoye deposit in the Arctic Nenets region on northwest Russia. Lukoil's performance at another Nenets field - Inzereiskoye - was deemed satisfactory by the ministry.

Meanwhile Shell has been instructed to sign a new agreement at the Salym field in West Siberia where it holds a 50% stake in the Salym Petroleum Development venture with Russia's Evikhon. An estimated 100-mil mt of oil reserves lie in the Salym area. Failure to fulfill the ministry's demands will result in withdrawal of licenses which will be offered at tender, the ministry warned. "The purpose of our work is not to take away and redistribute licenses but to introduce order in the natural resources arena," Yuri Trutnev, minister of natural resources said. "We will oblige all companies with licenses to really work and pay taxes into the state coffers and not just pretend to be doing that," he said.