Rosneft may seek BP board seat, Russia's Sechin says

BP could face further controversy in the United States over its divisive alliance with Rosneft, after Russia's deputy prime minister, Igor Sechin, signalled yesterday that the state-controlled oil and gas giant may seek a seat on the British company's board.

Mr Sechin, who also serves at Rosneft's chairman, suggested he was ready to discuss the possibility, adding that that in return BP would get a place on the Rosneft board.

BP said it was not aware of such discussions, but any suggestion that Rosneft might end up with a board seat would spark renewed fury in the US, where politicians have already expressed misgivings about its $16bn (£10m) share-swap deal with the Russian group.

One law maker, the Democratic Congressman Ed Markey, responded to the share-swap announcement by saying that while BP once stood for British Petroleum, following the deal "it now stands for Bolshoi Petroleum".

The transaction was put on hold after the businessmen who own half of TNK-BP, the oil group's Russian joint venture, secured an injunction. Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, Mr Sechin also warned Rosneft may seek compensation if the deal fails. "I hope all the misunderstandings will be eliminated," he said, adding that if the deal is called off, Rosneft "will ask for compensation from those who would have inflicted the losses".

Meanwhile, BP has unveiled plans to sell interests in gasfields that it runs in the southern North Sea by the end of this year. The disposals will include the pipeline network and the Dimlington terminal. The group will also sell off its stake in the Wytch Farm field in Dorset.

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