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Kazakh Official Warns Oil Firm Over Caspian Damage

(RFE/RL) August 18, 2006 -- Kazakh Environment Minister Nurlan Iskakov today warned he may initiate legal procedures against the TengizChevrOil joint venture unless the firm complies with environmental legislation.

Speaking in Astana, Iskakov said authorities have a legal arsenal to force the company to abide -- including possible revocation of the firm's license to operate the giant Tengiz oil field in the western region of Atyrau.

Iskakov said steps taken by TengizChevrOil to reprocess the sulfur extracted from Tengiz were insufficient and that the company contaminates the Caspian Sea environment.

Sulfur is a by-product of poisonous hydrogen sulfide gas found with crude oil pumped from Tengiz.

TengizChevrOil's partners include Chevron and ExxonMobil of the United States, the LUKArco U.S.-Russian joint venture, and Kazakhstan's KazMunaiGaz national oil company.

Chevron has a 50-percent stake in the joint venture. ExxonMobil has a 25 percent stake.

(Kazakhstan Today, Interfax-Kazakhstan)

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