Rosneft, TNK-BP agree to share disputed oil stake

MOSCOW Wed May 23, 2007 8:50am BST

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MOSCOW May 23 (Reuters) - Russia's largest oil firm Rosneft (ROSN.MM) and BP's (BP.L) Russian venture, TNK-BP TNBPI.RTS, have agreed to share equally a disputed 11 percent stake in an East Siberian oil firm, TNK-BP said on Wednesday.

Both TNK-BP and Rosneft, which own 62.7 and 25.9 percent stakes in VerkhnechonskNefteGas (VCNG) respectively, had claimed the remaining 11.3 percent stake, which its owner, East Siberian Gas Company (ESGC), decided to sell last year.

"We confirm that Rosneft and TNK-BP have reached a preliminary agreement to divide the shares on a parity basis," TNK-BP's spokeswoman Marina Dracheva told Reuters.

VCNG develops the Verkhnechonsk field, one of the biggest in East Siberia, an oil-rich but underdeveloped region set to feed the planned Asian pipeline to the Chinese border.

The first stage of the pipeline, which will pump 600,000 barrels per day, is to be completed at the end of 2008.

TNK-BP and Rosneft, which is also developing the Vankor deposit in the region, are among the firms expected to provide crude for the pipeline, which will help Russia diversify its oil flows away from Europe and towards energy-hungry Asian markets.

VCNG plans to produce some 16,000 barrels per day during the first three to five years after it starts commercial production in 2008 and to raise output later to 150,000-200,000 bpd.

The Verkhnechonsk field's recoverable reserves are estimated at 1.5 billion barrels, or 83 percent of oil reserves of the East Siberian Irkutsk region.

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