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TNK-BP output at risk as shareholders disagree-paper

Reuters

TNK-BP output at risk as shareholders disagree-paper

Mon May 26, 2008 2:27am EDT

MOSCOW, May 26 (Reuters) – The chief executive of BP’s (BP.L: QuoteProfile,Research) Russian venture, TNK-BP TNBPI.RTS, has acknowledged for the first time that the Russian and British shareholders disagree on matters, saying it could damage oil production.

“There is of course some disagreement among TNK-BP shareholders… on the question of investment, on the question of the sale of some assets in Russia,” Robert Dudley told Monday’s edition of Russian business daily Vedomosti.

TNK-BP, which is half-owned by BP and a group of Russian billionaires, has been the subject of long-running market speculation that the Kremlin wants one of the groups to sell out to a state firm, such as gas export monopoly Gazprom (GAZP.MM: QuoteProfileResearch).

Russian security services have raided TNK-BP and BP offices in Moscow and arrested an employee on commercial espionage charges.

Industry sources have said that state pressure has led to deep disagreements between the Russian and British shareholders as none of them is prepared to sell out.

Many analysts saw a sign of such rivalry when a little-known brokerage, Tetlis, claimed in a Siberian court that TNK-BP’s use of BP specialist contractors was illegal because it amounted to a special dividend to BP at the expense of other shareholders.

TNK-BP and BP have so far denied any disagreement.

“The shareholders have told me that none of them has anything to do with the Tetlis claim. I have to accept that statement and admit that that is the case,” Dudley said.

But he added that, apart from the use of BP specialist contractors, TNK-BP was facing problems with the use of its own foreign specialists due to “deliberately erroneous filling out of documents in May” by one of TNK-BP’s executives.

He did not elaborate.

“As an oil industry man, I can say that the input of BP’s specialists has been very substantial and their absence can affect production figures,” he said.

“The firm’s production could fall in the fourth quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009,” he added. (Reporting by Amie Ferris-Rotman and Chris Baldwin; Editing by Alan Raybould)

 

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