Wed, May 18, 2011 - Page 10 News List

Interfax reports that Rosneft pulls out of Arctic deal with BP

AFP, MOSCOW and LONDON

Rosneft has pulled out of its strategic alliance with BP and will look for new partners in Arctic oil exploration, Interfax quoted a source close to the state-held company as saying yesterday.

Rosneft was pulling out after losing patience with the position adopted by the Russian shareholders of BP’s joint venture in Russia, TNK-BP, who had obtained a court injunction against the deal, the source said.

“This entire time, Rosneft has been keeping to a constructive position,” the source said. “This is confirmed by the fact that it agreed to extend the deadline, and also expressed readiness to buy out AAR’s share jointly with BP for a premium price.”

AAR represents the four Russian billionaires who control half of BP’s local venture TNK-BP.

News reports said BP and Rosneft had been willing to pay more than US$30 billion for the Russian partners’ stake.

However, they refused to accept those terms and the Rosneft source said the company had tired of the protracted negotiations and was now looking for other Western partners.

“From the moment the BP agreement lapses, Rosneft will start reviewing all of the previously submitted proposals for the [Arctic] shelf projects and decide on a strategy for attracting a partner to the Kara Sea,” the Rosneft source said.

However, BP and AAR issued a separate statement saying they were still pursuing talks over buy-out terms.

“BP and AAR announced today that they would intensify their efforts to ensure TNK-BP’s continued success following the lapse of the BP-Rosneft share swap transaction [and the related Arctic exploration opportunity],” they said in a joint statement. “In recent months, BP has conducted detailed negotiations with AAR and Rosneft to seek a reasonable and businesslike solution that would allow the agreements to proceed to the satisfaction of all parties.”

“Such a solution has not been found at this time, although talks will continue,” the statement said.

The historic Arctic agreement signed in January was hailed as a breakthrough for foreign investment in Russia and also a comeback for BP after the fiasco of last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster.

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