BP's Russian partners 'to consider joining lawsuit'

18th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

The billionaire partners in BP's Russian joint venture said Tuesday they would consider joining a suit brought against the British giant over its failed tie-up with state-held Rosneft.

The announcement by TNK-BP Holding threatens to increase pressure on BP and endanger the very existence of one of its most profitable foreign partnerships.

The Russian half of TNK-BP is comprised of four Soviet-born tycoons who successfully argued in court that they held the right of first refusal on an Arctic oil exploration deal that Rosneft initially signed with BP.

The legal battle ended with Rosneft ripping up that agreement and signing a new pact with the US supermajor ExxonMobil.

TNK-BP did not specify which of its directors had forwarded the idea of joining the minority stakeholders' suit.

"At the request of one of the TNK-BP Holding ("TBH") Directors, on 24 October the Board of Directors of TBH will consider the question of whether or not to join the lawsuit being put forward by one of its minority shareholders," the group said.

Their statement also failed to specify which of two legal actions against BP the group was considering to join.

An exisiting suit against BP executives Peter Charow and Richard Scott Sloan -- an 87-billion-ruble ($2.8-billion) claim from a group representing less than the one percent of shareholders as required by law -- is set to resume on November 8.

In that case, a Siberian court handed BP a small victory by refusing to grant the shareholders extra time to collect more shareholder signatures for the suit.

Another claim against BP and its local venture Russian Investments Limited was filed by minority shareholder Andrei Prokhorov and was raised last week to 409 billion rubles ($13.1 billion).

TNK-BP provides BP with about a quarter of its annual production and 10 percent of its profits.

© 2011 AFP

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