According to Kommersant and The Guardian (22 October 2012), BP is set to sell its 50 per cent interest in TNK-BP to Rosneft, receiving in exchange at least 13 per cent of the state-controlled oil company and at least USD 10 billion in cash, money that it needs to repay outstanding liabilities related to the oil spill debacle in the USA in 2010.
That way it will be able to rid itself of an increasingly embarrassing partnership with its TNK-BP partners, the AAR Consortium, a partnership dogged by allegations and counter-allegations and litigation. Amusingly, the Russian business daily notes that notwithstanding statements by AAR shareholder Mikhail Fridman that the company was ready for a partnership with Rosneft, AAR has sought over the past few days to reach an amicable settlement with BP, including the payment of up to USD 6 billion in dividends, so that BP would remain in TNK-BP.
It is a pity that AAR had not been more ready to make compromises in the past. Then BP might not have decided to part with its interest in TNK-BP. Apparently, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich summoned BP’s head in Russia on Friday to the White House to express his indignation at BP’s decision, stating that the company had backed the wrong horse. Presumably this means that Dvorkovich has close ties with AAR.
You would have thought that Russia’s government, including Dvorkovich, would be keen to see BP hook up with Rosneft and also keen to see a foreign investor wield less influence over Russia’s oil resources.
Now it is a question of when AAR sells its interest in TNK-BP to Rosneft and not if. That is, if the government is ready to pay through Rosneft USD 28 billion to AAR’s shareholders.
The main beneficiary is Rosneft, which gains access to BP’s expertise and technology for the development of hard to access deposits, and at the same time becomes one of the largest global oil producers through its acquisition of TNK-BP. In addition, the tie-up ultimately puts to an end any hopes that YUKOS shareholders might have entertained of recovering something from the state-controlled behemoth in connection with the company’s forced bankruptcy and sale of its assets in various auctions to Rosneft. The partnership with BP adds further legitimacy to the company.