Rosneft has opened the door to fresh co-operation talks with BP on developing the Arctic, saying it could continue negotiations even though a deadline for reaching agreement on a $16-billion share swap with the U.K. oil group had expired.
The Russian state oil champion said in a statement on Wednesday that it had received fresh proposals from BP PLC on co-operation that went "beyond previous agreements and do not require the extension of the deadline" for the share swap.
The announcement came after talks to buy out the U.K. oil group's Russian partners in TNK-BP, its existing Russian oil venture, collapsed on Monday, puncturing BP's bid to persuade the partners to lift their legal block against its proposed alliance with Rosneft before the deadline for the proposed alliance expired.
A Rosneft spokesman said BP had made clear that "they did not want to close the chapter and made fresh proposals that Rosneft will now review".
The spokesman added that BP had also made clear this time that it had to gain permission from the TNK-BP board in order for any co-operation with Rosneft to go ahead. The Russian partners in TNK-BP, represented by Alfa-Access-Renova, had won a legal injunction blocking BP's proposed alliance over their claims it breached the shareholder agreement that TNK-BP must be granted right of first refusal on any new Russian ventures.
Rosneft said, however, its "hands were now untied" following the lapse of the deadline on its original agreement with BP for a $16-billion share swap and Arctic exploration deal. It said it was now reviewing offers from other global oil majors to develop the three blocs of the South Kara Arctic sea that had been earmarked for the proposed alliance with BP.
The Rosneft spokesman declined to specify whether BP's new proposals targeted the South Kara Sea or other licenses in the Arctic.
BP declined to comment on whether it had submitted a new proposal but said: "We are still talking with Rosneft, but cannot go into any specifics."
A person close to AAR declined to comment, saying only that if such proposals had been made, the shareholder group expected to review them at a TNK-BP board meeting set to start in Cyprus on Thursday.
A senior Rosneft official had earlier indicated on Tuesday that the state oil champion had little desire to return to the negotiating table to buy out AAR, saying AAR's "unconstructive" position had "exhausted" the chances of a deal.