Kazakhs seek 2.5 bn from ChevronTexaco-led TCO

28.09.04 11:08
/REUTERS, September 28, 04/ - Kazakhstan's government is seeking a total of $2.5 billion in back taxes and fines from ChevronTexaco-led oil venture Tengizchevroil (TCO), Chevron's venture partner LUKOIL said on Tuesday. "I believe this is now in the stage of negotiations (with the government)," a LUKOIL official said by telephone from Moscow. Russia's Kommersant daily said earlier the Kazakh government was seeking $120 million in back taxes from LUKOIL as part of its claim to TCO. "I have nothing to add to what Kommersant said," the official said. Kazakh officials and other TCO partners could not be immediately reached for comment. Kommersant said that Kazakhstan's tax claim to TCO was for overdue taxes and fines dating back to 2000-03. TCO, the Central Asian state's largest oil producer, has been at odds with the government on how to fund its expansion. TCO has pressed for the so- called "accelerated amortisation". But the government has said that this financial scheme cuts taxes which the multinational venture pays to the state budget. TCO, which sits on the giant onshore Tengiz oilfield in western Kazakhstan, aims to boost output to 480,000 barrels per day by 2006 from around 260,000 bpd currently. ChevronTexaco holds 50 percent in TCO, while LUKOIL owns a 54 percent stake in LUKArco, which holds 5 percent in TCO. On Wednesday Russia's government is due to hold an auction to sell its remaining 7.6 percent stake in LUKOIL with a starting price of nearly $2 billion. LUKOIL is the world's second largest firm by reserves. U.S. energy firm ConocoPhillips is tipped by Russian media and officials to be a "very interested" bidder for the LUKOIL stake. The firm has several joint projects with LUKOIL. Other partners in TCO include ExxonMobil with 25 percent and Kazakh state oil and has holding KazMunaiGas with 20 percent. [2004-09-28]