Russia suit against BP raised to $13 bn

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A minority shareholder in BP's Russian joint venture on Thursday raised his damages claim against the British firm to $13 billion in the wake of its failed tie-up with state-held Rosneft.

The suit is one of two filed against BP, its local subsidiaries and directors by Andrei Prokhorov together with a tiny group of Russian investors in the TNK-BP Holding company that got squeezed out of the Rosneft deal.

The suit against BP executives Peter Charow and Richard Scott Sloan -- an 87-billion-ruble ($2.8-billion) claim from a group representing far less than the one percent required by law -- will be heard again on November 8.

A Siberian court where the hearing is proceeding handed BP a small victory this week by refusing to grant the group more time to collect additional shareholder signatures for their suit against Charow and Sloan.

The second claim against BP and its local venture Russian Investments Limited was filed by Prokhorov on his own and raised on Thursday from the original 87 billion rubles to 409 billion rubles ($13.1 billion).

"The higher complaint stems from the loss of expected gain in a number of offshore projects in the Arctic," Prokhorov lawyer Dmitry Chepurenko said in a statement.

Chepurenko did not explain why the damages claim was raised in the suit against BP and its subsidiary, and not in the one aimed at its two directors.

But a BP lawyer told the Financial Times that the failure of the complaint against the executives to collect the required one percent of the signatures meant the plaintiffs "practically have no right to file the suit."

BP was replaced in the Arctic tie-up with the Kremlin-controlled firm by the US major ExxonMobil in August after TNK-BP's Russian billionaire partners tried to put a halt to the deal in court.

They claimed first rights to the Rosneft project and now claim losses from the unrealised deal. Rosneft refused to work with BP's Russian partners and the two sides then failed to buy out the TNK-BP tycoons.

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

© 2011 AFP

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