BP eyes a stake in new gas pipe link with Russia

Marion Dakers
BP is in talks to invest in the key gas pipeline between Russia and Europe, sources said yesterday.

The oil major is having preliminary discussions about taking a stake in a project to extend the Nord Stream pipeline into the UK. Nord Stream currently runs pipes from Vyborg in Russia to the German town of Lubmin.

While talks are at an early stage, a BP spokesperson said the UK and Russian governments are both being kept in the loop.

The states’ involvement extends to Prime Minister David Cameron and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who according to the Mail on Sunday discussed Nord Stream when they met during this summer’s Olympics.

A Downing Street spokesman said the government “is open to foreign investment in our energy supply”, but declined to comment further.

BP has long been keen to get involved in the Nord Stream project, but was hampered by its soon-to-be-former partner AAR, which fought for first refusal for all of BP’s activities in Russia.

The London-listed firm’s new partner, state-owned Rosneft, will give it more scope to seek out new deals.

Nord Stream is currently owned by five firms, led by Russia’s Gazprom.

Investors in the 1,224km pipeline last month revealed plans to expand via a new company, to be incorporated in early 2013. The exact route and participants are yet to be decided, but the Kremlin has said it would like to link the pipe to the UK.