There is no sign of BP’s troubles stopping. Moscow has now ratcheted up the pressure on BP’s Russian venture, warning that TNK-BP could see the licence for its vast Kovykta gas field revoked within “a matter of days”.

Oleg Mitvol, head of Russia’s environmental watchdog, said his agency would open a probe tomorrow into whether TNK-BP was meeting licence terms to develop the east Siberian field – as a three-month deadline passed for production there to be boosted to 9 billion cubic metres in line with requirements. TNK-BP has said this target would be impossible to meet.

“If everything goes according to the law then [TNK-BP] should lose the licence,” Mr Mitvol said, adding that a special commission would meet in “the next few days” to decide whether to revoke it.