Russia schedules court hearing for claim against BP

19th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

BP's Russian partner TNK-BP said Friday that a Siberian court had scheduled a hearing into a $3 billion claim by one of its shareholders against the British firm.

The announcement comes in the wake of a failed bid by BP this year to strike an unprecedented share swap and Arctic oil exploration agreement with Russia's state-held oil giant Rosneft.

The $16 billion deal was successfully blocked in court by a clutch of TNK-BP Russian shareholders who claimed to have the right of first refusal on the lucrative Rosneft project.

Rosneft walked away from the deal after refusing to work with TNK-BP and failing to buy out its disgruntled Russian partners.

A minority TNK-BP shareholder named Andrei Prokhorov later filed a damages suit against BP executives Peter Charow and Richard Scott Sloan.

The claim states that BP caused 87 billion rubles ($2.97 billion) in losses to TNK-BP's interests by keeping it out of the mooted Rosneft venture.

A source at TNK-BP confirmed Russian press reports stating that a court in the Siberian region of Tyumen had scheduled an initial hearing for September 21.

Prokhorov holds only a tiny stake in TNK-BP and is widely believed to be acting in the interests of the four Soviet-born billionaire who control the Russian half of TNK-BP.

The group of billionaires -- known collectively as AAR -- is also pursuing a simultaneous arbitration case in Stockholm that it hopes will be heard at the end of next month.

BP has officially given up on the Rosneft venture and is now facing the difficult task of resolving boardroom frictions at one its most lucrative foreign ventures.

Rosneft is not expected to name a new Arctic partner until the end of the year at the earliest and is expected to address the issue at an extraordinary general meeting scheduled for September 13.

The Russian firm has already held formal Arctic talks with the Anglo-Dutch firm Shell and has reported fielding other offers.

© 2011 AFP

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