BP deal in doubt as Rosneft chair leaves

BP’s $16bn (£9.8bn) share swap deal with Rosneft looks shaky following the departure of the Russian oil giant’s chairman, Igor Sechin.

Sechin, also deputy prime minister of Russia, has followed orders from Russian president Dmitry Medvedev that ministers should resign from their positions leading state-owned companies to separate business and politics.

BP is also under renewed fire from its Russian joint venture partner, the AAR consortium that makes up half of the TNK-BP venture, as sources said it was considering a further legal challenge to block BP’s deal with its rival.

The oligarchs making up the AAR consortium are reportedly to sue for up to $10bn damages from BP on grounds that it violated their right of first refusal on any exploration activity in Russia.

Sechin’s departure from Rosneft is thought to remove a key support for the deal but also allow the TNK investors greater freedom to oppose it.

The problems come as the agreement on the planned five per cent share swap and Arctic exploration deal is just two days from expiring on April 14.