Regal Petroleum, the controversial oil company, yesterday admitted that a million-dollar pipeline to export gas from its main producing developments was still not being used - more than 18 months after its construction, Guardian reported.

There could be no guarantee when supplies would start flowing through the 12-kilometre pipeline in Ukraine that joins a main trunk line operated by Russian gas giant Gazprom, it admitted.

London-based Regal completed the transport link in late 2003, but said it had been concentrating since then on its Greek operations, which have been hit by their own problems.

Confirmation of the latest setback came as the oil company fended off allegations that its executive chairman and founder, Frank Timis, had been named in three separate criminal investigations under way in Romania.

Regal hit the headlines last month when it revealed that much-publicised plans to produce oil in Greece had run into serious problems.

The failure raised eyebrows because it was confirmed just three weeks after Regal raised £45m from new investors, partly on the back of hopes for this scheme.

The Greek business has taken the focus away from Ukraine, where Regal has been producing around 800,000 cubic metres of gas a day from four wells.

The company said it had always made clear that it would provide gas to the local market and not start exports until it had built up volumes to more than 1m cubic metres a day.

Asked whether it was not inefficient to build a pipeline and then not use it, the Regal spokesman replied: "We have not been focused on getting the production of gas up in Ukraine because we have been concentrating on Greece."


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