BP oligarchs talk tough over Rosneft dispute

City A.M. Reporter
BP's partners in its Russian venture TNK-BP rejected the UK oil major's attempts to settle a dispute caused by its $18bn (£11bn) tie-up with Rosneft, casting further doubt on the deal.

"Now is the time for sensible proposals from BP to resolve the problems that have been created," Stan Polovets, chief executive of AAR, the consortium that represents the four billionaires who own half of TNK-BP said in a statement.

BP believes the Russians are angling to be bought out of TNK-BP at a high price – possibly more than $35bn.

BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley said on Thursday BP had offered to do this – sources close to the matter said the oil giant offered $27bn in conjunction with Rosneft – but he added BP would not overpay.

Polovets said AAR was not planning to sell out and simply wanted BP to conduct the planned $16bn share swap and $1.2-2bn Arctic Sea exploration deal with Rosneft, through TNK-BP instead, in line with the TNK-BP shareholder agreement.

AAR convinced an arbitration panel to block both elements of the Rosneft deal pending a settlement between the two sides.

Analysts and investors are growing increasingly pessimistic the deal, which was supposed to signal BP's recovery after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, will be sealed.

"We believe it is unlikely that the final decision from the panel will wave the deal through," analysts at the Royal Bank of Scotland said in a research note.