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The Guardian: Gazprom seeks BP’s help to break into American energy supply

Terry Macalister
Friday August 24, 2007

Russia’s Gazprom is trying to muscle its way into the American energy market by encouraging BP to share a stake in its liquefied natural gas operation in Trinidad, which supplies the US.

Gazprom, the world’s largest gas producer, has already secured a 25% share of the wholesale gas market in Europe – something that has caused widespread political unease – and wants to increase its influence in the US.

Trinidad supplies around two-thirds of America’s imported LNG and although the volumes remain relatively small they are expected to grow. BP declined to comment on any specific talks with Gazprom on Trinidad but admitted wide-ranging discussions were ongoing about future areas for cooperation.

The Russian newspaper Vedomosti quoted sources close to TNK-BP as saying the two companies were discussing how they could cooperate in the Caribbean and help Gazprom win a toehold in the US. “Participation in this project will enable Gazprom to expand its presence in the LNG markets, which is one of the priorities for the company,” said analysts for investment bank UBS in Moscow.

Gazprom has formed a global alliance with the British-based group as part of a wider deal under which the Russian state-owned gas group bought the Siberian Kovykta field from TNK-BP.

There has been speculation that Gazprom, seen by many as a tool of the Kremlin, wants to take over the 50% stake in TNK-BP held by local investors. BP may be trying to fend this off by offering options to cooperate under joint ventures which could have assets of some $3bn (£1.5bn).

Gazprom has long harboured ambitions to sell LNG into the US market and hopes to be able to supply it from its ambitious Shtokman field project in the far north Barents Sea. The Russians have also taken control of the world’s biggest LNG scheme at Sakhalin Island after buying a majority stake from Shell and two Japanese firms.

Meanwhile, BP has put up bids worth $31m for the licences on 18m acres of exploration and production seabed in the Gulf of Mexico but there will be a careful assessment before the licences are awarded. “We’re pretty pleased with the results. Some of these are near existing facilities, and some are new plays,” said BP spokeswoman Marty Powers.

The company has endured a tough couple of years in the US. It was severely criticised by safety regulators after the Texas City explosion and attacked for an Alaskan pipeline fracture at Prudhoe Bay.,,2155155,00.html and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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