TNK-BP talks up chances of Rosneft deal

 
Marion Dakers
EXECUTIVES at TNK-BP are keen to join BP’s Arctic drilling deal with Russian oil company Rosneft, its chief financial officer confirmed yesterday.

“In relation to Arctic opportunity it has been accurately reported that management at this point has proposed that the board consider participation in the Arctic opportunity,” Jonathan Muir told a conference call, adding that the board was still considering the proposals.

The board of TNK-BP, which includes members from joint investors BP and Russia’s AAR, is due to meet in Berlin on Friday to consider TNK’s plan to join the venture.

Muir told reporters yesterday that TNK’s balance sheet could withstand the level of investment needed to participate in the £10bn deal.

The firm said in its 2010 results yesterday that net debt fell 21.6 per cent to $4.68bn (£2.88bn) during the year as revenues rose 28.4 per cent to $44.6bn. TNK-BP also raised $773m yesterday by selling gas field rights to Gazprom.

Rosneft’s share-swap and exploration deal with BP was announced in January, but two weeks later AAR won an injunction to halt progress, claiming TNK-BP’s rights to BP operations in Russia had been breached.

The three firms are due to enter formal arbitration talks next week.

Rosneft has not publicly ruled out bringing TNK-BP into the deal, but its chief financial officer fuelled doubts last month, telling reporters: “They have neither the technology, nor the experience, nor the personnel.”