Russia leaves door open for fresh BP deal

Marion Dakers
BP’S hopes of teaming up with Rosneft were raised yesterday, when the Russian state-owned giant said talks could continue past Tuesday’s deadline for a planned £10bn share-swap.

Rosneft said the new proposals “go… beyond the scope of the earlier agreements with BP”, a nod to the possibility of involving BP’s Russian joint venture TNK-BP, which had previously been all but ruled out.

BP and AAR, who together own TNK-BP, failed to come up with a way for TNK-BP to join the Rosneft deal, after AAR complained in January that the venture’s right of first refusal to BP’s Russian activities had been breached.

Rosneft is also in discussions with rivals Shell, Exxon and Chevron about several projects in the lucrative Arctic oil fields.

Russia’s deputy prime minister Igor Sechin said yesterday that BP remains “a very good partner. We do not rule out some arrangement in which BP could be brought in as a contractor, perhaps on an outsourcing basis [for the Arctic] and on other projects.”

But Rosneft’s difficulties in sealing an Arctic deal with an experienced offshore player provoked irritation within the Russian government.

President Dmitry Medvedev said at a press conference: “Those who prepared the deal should have paid closer attention to the nuances of the shareholder agreement,” referring to Sechin, whose office was heavily involved in piecing together the deal.