10 Jun 2010 15:01

TNK-BP co-owner Fridman: BP effective partner, cooperation to continue

MOSCOW. June 10 (Interfax) - The Russian shareholders in TNK-BP believe BP has been an effective partner and plan to continue cooperation, TNK-BP co-owner and acting chief executive Mikhail Fridman told foreign journalists.

"We never regretted that BP was our partner and I am confident that we won't regret it in the future," Fridman is quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying.

"I don't think there's a threat to the stability of the company in a purely financial sense," he said, commenting on the impact of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Russian shareholders don't expect BP to sell its 50% stake in TNK-BP to cover cleanup costs, Fridman said. The spill has had no effect on TNK-BP operations, he added.

Viktor Vekselberg, another member of the AAR consortium, which owns the other 50% in TNK-BP, doubted that BP would sell its stake. "I believe TNK-BP is a brilliant asset in BP's portfolio. It will be the last thing BP decides to sell," he said.

On Wednesday Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said the spill would not have a negative impact on BP's situation in Russia. Aside from TNK-BP, BP has a joint venture with Rosneft on Sakhalin and plans to operate on Russia's Arctic shelf.

TNK-BP is Russia's third largest oil company by production, accounting for about 16% of Russian production (including its 50% stake in Slavneft).

Commenting on the launch of bankruptcy proceedings at RUSIA Petroleum , the operator of the Kovykta field, Fridman expressed the hope it would speed up the state's acquisition of RUSIA, and receipt of compensation by TNK-BP of investment made in the project.

Kovykta contains 2 trillion cubic meters of C1+C2 gas reserves. TNK-BP companies own 62.9% of license-holder RUSIA Petroleum, OGK-3 has 24.99% and the administration of Irkutsk region has 10.78%. RUSIA management filed for bankruptcy in Irkutsk region arbitration court at the beginning of June after TNK-BP, the company's main creditor, demanded early repayment of a portion of debt.