MOSCOW, October 11 (RIA Novosti) - The Natural Resources Ministry has set in motion a procedure for recalling most of the subsoil use licenses from Yukos' core production unit - Yuganskneftegaz. The reason is outstanding tax bills. Although Yuganskneftegaz has been given three months in which to pay off the debt amounting to 3.5 billion rubles (1$ is equal to 29.22 rubles), analysts do not doubt the licenses will be revoked.

According to Vedomosti, the commission for the enforcement of license agreements of the Natural Resources Ministry has decided to serve a notice on Yugansk about the possible withdrawal of 21 licenses on the right to exploit subsoil. Aggregate reserves covered by these licenses total 1.1 billion metric tons of oil, an official from the Federal Service for Monitoring Subsoil Use, or FSNSN, told the paper. Yuganskneftegaz can only avoid having its licenses called back if it repays its outstanding mineral resource extraction tax in three months.

"We have not been paying this tax since August, which no doubt is a breach of the license agreements," agrees Alexander Shadrin, head of the Yukos press service. But he indicated that the taxes had not been paid because Yuganskneftegaz accounts had been frozen.

An official at a federal department does not believe that the unit will be able to clear the debt, which this means Yuganskneftegaz will most likely lose its licenses. Analysts agree. In the view of Valery Nesterov, from the investment company Troika Dialog, the state intends to knock down the Yuganskneftegaz price as far as possible. If the enterprise is deprived of all its licenses, the expert believes, it will lose three-quarters of its value. It is quite probable that it will be hit with additional back taxes.

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