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23 July, 2004 - Published 14:35 GMT
Russian oil giant faces bankruptcy
The giant Russian oil company Yukos has warned it faces bankruptcy in less than a month unless it's given access to frozen accounts and assets. The government says Yukos owes a large amount of unpaid tax. This report from Damian Grammaticas:
Western Siberia is the heart of Russia's oil industry. In Nefteyugansk - population a hundred thousand - there's an atmosphere of gloom about the fate of Yukos. Russia's most successful, profitable oil firm provides the city's lifeblood. Dotted across the waterlogged expanse of the Siberian plain are oil wells and burning gas flares belonging to Yukos' local production unit.
Now, the oil giant has warned that if the Russian government seizes and sells its production arm here, Yukos will be forced into bankruptcy within three weeks. Local oil workers see little hope for Yukos' survival. They know their wells pump out two thirds of Yukos' oil supplies.
Yukos says it may be illegal for the government to seize its most valuable asset, worth an estimated thirty billion dollars - ten times more than the tax demand it's been given. The firm says it has written to the government eleven times asking for assets and accounts to be unfrozen so it can settle the tax bill but has received no reply. It's now warning that oil production and exports from Russia might be harmed.
Damian Grammaticas, BBC News, Nefteyugansk
the heart of
provides the city's lifeblood
forced into bankruptcy
settle the tax bill