BP denies plan to sell Russian venture to Rosneft

7th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

British energy group BP on Tuesday denied it was planning to sell part of its stake in Russian joint venture TNK-BP to Rosneft in a bid to revive an Arctic exploration deal with the Russian state oil company.

"BP has taken no decision to sell any of its shareholding in TNK-BP and there is no current intention to do so," a spokesperson told AFP.

Citing unnamed sources, The Wall Street Journal said on Tuesday that top BP executives had informed Russian billionaire shareholders in TNK-BP of a plan to sell part of its 50 percent stake to Rosneft.

The newspaper added that the billionaire shareholders would shortly receive a formal letter outlining the sale plan.

In Moscow, Rosneft spokesman Rustam Kazharov said he would not be drawn on the "unconfirmed rumours," while TNK-BP spokesman Mikhail Loskutov also refused to comment on the report.

Last month, Rosneft shattered BP's hopes of exploiting Russian Arctic oil by pulling out of a planned joint venture with the British giant after losing patience with protracted negotiations.

The deal -- championed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin -- was hailed as a breakthrough in Russian business ties with the West and a chance for BP to restore its reputation after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

But it appears neither side expected objections from the group of Russian oligarchs who own half of TNK-BP. They argued that the deal breached their shareholder pact and blocked it in court.

BP and Rosneft sought to buy out the billionaires -- known collectively as AAR -- to end the crisis but the Russian firm tired of the conditions and price demands they set.


© 2011 AFP

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