17 Jan 2011 19:14

TNK-BP would be interested in Rosneft shares - Barsky

MOSCOW. Jan 17 (Interfax) - TNK-BP would be interested in the potential purchase of shares in Rosneft , Maxim Barsky, the Russian-British joint venture's deputy chief executive and future head, told Interfax.

"If the TNK-BP board of directors were to ask for management's point of view on what might be of interest to TNK-BP itself in the deal between BP and Rosneft, then we'd say among other things that the shelf issue requires further examination, and that the subject of a possible share buy in Rosneft would be of interest," Barsky said.

Barsky said the shelf blocks at which Rosneft and BP plan to work require further study from the point of view of the viability of the work. "We'd examine this issue," he said.

Barsky said that buying shares in Rosneft would be a good investment for TNK-BP. "Shares in Rosneft are attractive in that they would open up the possibility for TNK-BP to become involved in new projects in Russia, including shelf projects. I also think shares in Rosneft are undervalued, which is why they would be a good investment," he said.

In addition, Barsky said the process of him taking up office as TNK-BP chief was going to plan and should be wrapped up by the end of February.

Rosneft and BP on January 14 struck a deal to explore the Arctic shelf in which the state-owned Russian oil major will receive 5% of voting shares in BP worth $7.8 billion in exchange for roughly 9.5% in Rosneft.

A source close to the deal told Interfax that Rosneft would own 66.67% and BP - 33.33% of a joint venture that would explore and develop three license blocks - EPNZ 1, 2, 3 - in the Kara Sea on the Russian Arctic shelf containing 49.7 million tonnes oil, 1.8 trillion cubic meters gas and 49 million tonnes condensate. Production is expected to begin after 2015.

The Russian consortium Alfa-Access-Renova (AAR), which shares ownership of TNK-BP 50-50 with BP, is studying the Rosneft/BP strategic alliance as it relates to TNK-BP, AAR CEO Stan Polovets told Interfax on January 17.

The shareholders' agreement between AAR and BP stipulates that all of the partners' projects in Russia and Ukraine must be implemented via TNK-BP, except for those projects that the TNK-BP board deems are of no interest, in which case the partners may implement their plans as they see fit.

That provision was contained in the original TNK-BP shareholders agreement in 2003 and remained in 2009, when the agreement was amended in the settlement of the boardroom battle between AAR and BP.

However, BP bypassed the TNK-BP board when it agreed the strategic alliance with Rosneft, Polovets said.