BP sells Colombian business for 1.9 billion dollars

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British oil giant BP said on Tuesday it will sell its Colombian business for a total of 1.9 billion dollars (1.4 billion euros) to national oil company Ecopetrol and Talisman of Canada.

The divestment is part of BP's plans to sell off up to 30 billion dollars of assets, as it faces soaring costs from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster.

The news comes just one week after BP's vilified chief executive Tony Hayward resigned in the wake of a record second-quarter loss of 16.9 billion dollars -- the biggest quarterly loss in British corporate history.

"BP today announced that it has agreed to sell its oil and gas exploration, production and transportation business in Colombia to a consortium of Ecopetrol, Colombia's national oil company (51 percent), and Talisman of Canada (49 percent)," it said in a statement.

"The two companies will pay BP a total of 1.9 billion dollars in cash ... for 100 per cent of the shares in BP Exploration Company (Colombia) Limited, the wholly-owned BP subsidiary company that holds BP's oil and gas exploration, production and transportation interests in Colombia."

The transaction, which is subject to regulatory and other approvals, is expected to complete by the end of 2010.

Gaffe-prone Hayward, who was widely panned for his handling of the Gulf spill, will step down in October and hand over the reigns to American executive Bob Dudley.

"I am delighted with the price we have achieved for these assets," added Hayward in Tuesday's statement.

"BP has been involved in Colombia for more than 20 years and played a major role in finding and developing the country's major oilfields.

"These have contributed significantly to BP's global production over the years.

"But it now makes sense for the assets to go to owners more willing than BP to invest in their future development."

BP also revealed last week that the Gulf coast oil disaster will cost it 32.2 billion dollars, adding that it would offload more than 30 billion dollars of assets over the next 18 months.

© 2010 AFP

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