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Friday, January 14, 2011

British Petroleum in $7.8bn share swap with Rosneft

British Petroleum  has unveiled a $16bn share swap with Rosneft, the Russian state oil company, as part of an ambitious strategic alliance that will see the two companies explore in the Russian Arctic continental shelf.

Under the terms of the agreement, unveiled in London on Friday evening, Rosneft will take a stake of about Five per cent in British Petroleum in exchange for about 9.5 per cent in the Russian group. BP already has a 1.2 per cent stake. The aggregate value of shares in BP to be issued to Rosneft is about $7.8bn. The two companies have also agreed to explore and develop three licence blocks in the Russian Arctic, an area equivalent in size and prospectivity to the UK North Sea.

Igor Sechin, deputy prime minister of Russia, said the government held British Petroleum in the highest esteem and would make use of the experience the company gleaned during last year’s Gulf of Mexico spill.

Shares in British Petroleum rose as much as 4 per cent to $49.44 in New York in advance of the news, which came after the market closed. The shares had reached the highest point since May 6, on expectations of the announcement after BP had called a press conference earlier on Friday. The confirmation of talks came hours after Bob Dudley, chief executive, met Vladimir Putin at the Russian prime minister’s Moscow residence.

Speaking at the signing ceremony at British Petroleum head office in central London, Mr Dudley described the deal as “a historic moment for BP, for our industry and I believe for Russia and the wider world of energy globally”.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, told us in our meeting in Moscow it is an alliance based on mutual advantage and recognition of the great strengths that bring each of us together in our co-operation. This is truly the first alliance fit for the 21st century, based on the promise of the future and not the legacies of the past.”

“For the first time in the history of our industry there will be a significant cross-share holding between a major international oil company and a major national oil company.’

Mr Dudley said the agreement “demonstrates mutual confidence and trust” between the two companies and defined a “new template” for how business can be done in the industry.

Mr Dudley said the two companies had talked about an exploration venture for a number of years but the decision to form a deeper alliance with a share swap had come up in the past two to three months. The deal, he said, fitted with BP’s strategy to access large hydrocarbon basins and new ones, alongside a “continued focus on the management of risk”. He said in spite of environmental concerns about drilling in the Arctic, one of the few unexplored hydrocarbon regions in the world, BP had learnt “the harsh lessons” of the Gulf of Mexico spill.

“Given the circumstances where we believe our shares are undervalued and Rosneft’s shares are undervalued it began to make sense in a different way beyond just an exploration contract. That there was a way here to align our interests,” Mr Dudley said.

Asked whether BP would have agreed a share swap if the accident in the US had not happened, he said “we might have”.

However, the deal has already drawn fire in the US where Edward J. Markey, the top Democrat on the House natural resources committee, called for a thorough analysis of the agreement.

If the deal is found to affect the operations of BP America, he said the committee on foreign investment in the US, a Treasury Department entity tasked with reviewing and acting upon the national security implications of foreign investments, should analyse the deal.

Lambert Energy Advisory acted as advisor to BP.


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