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BP Still Committed to Rosneft Deal Despite Legal Setback

BP plc said it remains committed to finding a way to resolve differences with its Russian partners after an arbitration tribunal Thursday extended an injunction of a historic stock swap and alliance with OAO Rosneft.

In January BP and Rosneft, which is Russia's state-controlled oil company, announced a strategic alliance that involved a stock swap and deal to jointly explore Russia's Arctic region (see Daily GPI, Jan. 18). The aggregate value of the BP shares to be issued to Rosneft at the time was estimated at $7.8 billion.

The mega deal is considered a centerpiece of BP CEO Bob Dudley's strategies to right the company following last year's Gulf of Mexico oil spill debacle.

However, BP also has exploration agreements in place with Russia's billionaire partners in a 50-50 alliance with TNK-BP, and they stepped in to dispute the Rosneft agreement. The shareholders, known as Alfa-Access-Renova (AAR), accused BP of breaking the TNK-BP agreement, which they claimed obliges both parties to pursue new projects in Russia through the 50-50 venture.

An arbitration tribunal was convened to resolve the issues raised by AAR.

In a statement Thursday BP said it was "disappointed that these agreements, which are important for Russia, for Rosneft and for BP, cannot go ahead in the form intended..."

AAR said Thursday the arbitration decision meant that BP "is prohibited from entering into any future share arrangement with Rosneft that has any kind of a strategic component."

AAR CEO Stan Polovets said, "Willfully ignoring the provisions of the shareholder agreement was a serious misjudgment by BP that has severely damaged the relationship between the TNK-BP shareholders; it has also harmed BP's reputation in Russia.

"We expect Bob Dudley to make every effort to rectify the situation and rebuild the trust that has been lost between BP, AAR and the management of TNK-BP."

BP said it intends to apply for a determination as to whether the stock swap with Rosneft, minus the exploration alliance, may proceed on its own. BP "looks forward to finding a way to resolve its differences with its Russian partners to allow these important Russian Arctic developments to proceed in future."

BP has until April 14 to complete the stock swap in its current form.

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