Share prices in the Russian-British oil joint venture accelerated their fall on Thursday afternoon on news that Russia’s environmental watchdog intended to take legal action to claim damages from the company for oil spills in the Siberian Rivers.
As of 17:22 p.m. Moscow time (13:22 GMT), TNK-BP common shares had nosedived 6.3 percent to 89 rubles per share while preferred stocks fell 4 percent to 82 rubles despite upward trends on the MICEX stock exchange.
Environment Minister Yury Trutnev instructed Russia’s Federal Service for the Oversight of Natural Resources (RosPrirodNadzor) on Thursday to take legal action to claim damages from TNK-BP over the spills.
“I have instructed RosPrirodNadzor to prepare a lawsuit to claim damages and proposed that the company (TNK-BP) should draw up a plan for replacing its pipelines. They have quite enough financial resources to triple investment and bring their pipeline network in order in five to seven years,” Trutnev said at a meeting of the Russian government’s presidium.
Trutnev said that 784 accidents involving TNK-BP had occurred last year in the basins of the Ob and Yenisei Rivers. The oil spill accidents occurred as the result of the poor state of the company’s pipelines, he said.
Rival oil firms such as Surgutneftegas and Bashneft had less than 20-28 incidents a year, Trutnev said.
Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said TNK-BP had channeled almost its entire net profit of almost $8 billion into dividend payments last year, suggesting the company has enough financial resources to finance maintenance of its pipeline network upgrade.
TNK-BP said in a statement on its website that all of the company’s new facilities were fully compliant with the highest industrial safety and environmental protection standards.
“TNK-BP is consistently implementing a comprehensive program for integrity and modernization of the pipeline infrastructure in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area and a program for remediation of legacy lands contaminated in the Soviet period when hydrocarbons were produced without due regard to environmental protection.”
“More than a half of all contaminated legacy lands of the company are now remediated. TNK-BP is going to remediate all remaining contaminated lands by 2019.”
British oil major BP, which operates in Russia through TNK-BP, a joint venture with a group of Russian billionaires, is still paying billions of dollars in settlements for the worst oil spill ever in U.S. history.
BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20, 2010, and sank two days later after burning for 36 hours in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana. The blast claimed the lives of 11 people.
More than 5 million barrels of crude oil were leaked in the Gulf of Mexico, polluting over 1,100 miles of coastline.