February 2, 2011
A senior executive at state oil company Rosneft, whose alliance with BP has a drawn a legal challenge from the British major’s co-investors in rival TNK-BP, scoffed at the prospect of TNK-BP as a potential partner.
“They have neither the technology, nor the experience, nor the personnel,” Rosneft Chief Financial Officer Peter O’Brien said at an investor conference Wednesday.
A London court Tuesday blocked the tie-up pending arbitration over a claim by the Russian consortium that owns half of TNK-BP that BP must pursue its business in Russia through the joint venture.
O’Brien’s remarks were at odds with the conciliatory tone struck a day earlier by BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley, himself a former TNK-BP chief and veteran of corporate conflict with the oil group’s local shareholders, over the court challenge.
Rosneft, the top oil company in Russia which is the world’s largest producer, won a deal to drill for oil in the Arctic Kara Sea with BP, which will also swap stakes with Rosneft to increase its holdings to nearly 11 percent.
Rosneft Chairman Igor Sechin, a powerful deputy to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, presided over the deal.
Analysts say BP is trying to put the Gulf of Mexico spill behind it by taking its expertise and technology to a region where both are in short supply.
Russia, which said Wednesday it continued to pump at peak rates of 10.21 million barrels per day, faces significant obstacles to maintaining output and developing its remote new oil provinces in harsh climates and with little infrastructure.
Arbitration proceedings are due Feb 25.
“Anything is possible but in reality I do not see a resolution before the start of the arbitration process,” O’Brien said, speaking in Russian.