MOSCOW, February 20 - RAPSI, Sergei Feklyunin. The Commercial Court of the Saratov Region has registered a lawsuit filed by the minority shareholders of TNK-BP's Saratov refinery, who are suing TNK-BP for 9.984 billion rubles (over $331 million) in damages, the court told RAPSI.

The suit was filed on February 18 by Cyprus-registered Lancrenan Investments Limited and Protsvetanie Holdings Ltd, managed by the Prosperity Capital Management investment fund incorporated in the Cayman Islands.

The date for the hearing has not yet been set. The Saratov Refinery has been named a third party in the lawsuit.

The two Cypriot companies have already filed suits for over 4.5 billion rubles ($150 million) of damages from TNK-BP.

These suits were dismissed by the Saratov commercial court and the 12th Commercial Court of Appeals in Saratov upheld its decision in November 2012.
The parties have not filed a cassation appeal.

The plaintiffs argued in their previous suits that the 13 billion ruble agreement (around $432 million) on refining services which the Saratov refinery and TNK-BP signed in 2004 was not approved by the general shareholder meeting in accordance with the established procedure.

The court material states that the plaintiffs claimed that the subsequent transactions were made below market price, as a result of which the refinery's income suffered losses of 4.582 billion rubles ($152 million).

The first-instance court dismissed the suit, although the judge agreed that the agreement was not properly approved. However, the judge ruled that the plaintiffs did not calculate the market value of the refining services correctly and accepted the defendant's assurance at face value that there would be no negative consequences for the refinery.

The Saratov Refinery was established in 1934. It annually refines around 6 million metric tons (44.1 million bbl) of crude oil. Its largest shareholder is TNK-BP Holding, which holds 83.8% of its charter capital.