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Rosneft May Pursue BP Swap Without Arctic Deal, Shokhin Says

OAO Rosneft may swap shares with BP Plc and find a new partner for Arctic drilling if a court alllows the the U.K. explorer to split the two parts of their agreement, an independent director at BP’s Russian venture said.

“Rosneft is, of course, waiting to see whether BP will be able to split the parts of the deal in court and proceed with the share swap without the Arctic project,” Alexander Shokhin, a TNK-BP board memberg and head of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, said today in Moscow.

“Finding another partner who would join the Arctic deal and the deal to swap shares is very difficult,” he said. “The question of exchanging shares with BP was practically decided.”

BP and Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil producer, agreed to extend a share swap deadline by a month to May 16, the London-based company said on April 14. The deal to swap a 5 percent holding for about 9.5 percent in Russia’s state oil company and explore for oil in the Kara Sea was blocked by BP’s Russian partners in the TNK-BP venture. BP has asked a court to allow it to pursue the share swap on its own.

Rosneft may seek out another foreign partner to help it develop deposits in Russia’s Arctic, Shokhin said. “It could be Exxon Mobil or Shell,” he said.

TNK-BP would have trouble joining Rosneft in developing the Arctic without taking part in the share swap, Shokhin said.

BP has offered its Russian partners in TNK-BP participation in Arctic projects, cash and international projects so that it can go ahead with an exploration deal and share swap with Rosneft, BP Chief Executive Officer Robert Dudley said on April 14.

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