UPDATE 3-Petrovietnam: still has option on BP Vietnam assets

Fri Oct 22, 2010 11:07am BST

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* BP announced deal to sell assets to TNK-BP this week

* Petrovietnam examining purchase, no decision yet -official

* Petrovietnam, ONGC have priority option to buy

* BP says aware of partners' preemptive rights (Adds BP comment, paragraphs 6-7)

By John Ruwitch

HANOI, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Vietnamese state oil group Petrovietnam said on Friday it still has the option to buy the offshore oil projects BP (BP.L) this week agreed to sell to its Russian joint venture TNK-BP TNBPI.RTS.

On Monday, BP announced that it had agreed to sell a package of oil and gas fields in Vietnam and Venezuela to TNK-BP for $1.8 billion as the London-based oil major raises cash to pay for its Gulf of Mexico oil spill. [ID:nLDE69H0FW]

Petrovietnam has priority to buy the assets from BP at the same price that TNK-BP has agreed to pay, a Petrovietnam official told Reuters on Friday.

She declined to say how much the Russian firm had offered for Vietnamese assets, but some have valued the assets at around $1 billion.

"We are still examining the deal and have not decided yet," said the official who declined to be identified by name or title.

A BP spokeswoman in Vietnam declined to comment on whether or not the British oil major was talking to Petrovietnam about a possible purchase, or how much TNK-BP offered.

She said the British oil major was aware of its partners' pre-emptive right with regard to the asset sale, and confirmed that the sale of BP's Vietnam assets would have to be approved by the Vietnamese government.

India's Oil Natural Gas Corp (ONGC.BO), another partner of BP's in Vietnam, was also given priority options to buy the stake and had the right to approve the final sale, according to a report in state-run media on Friday.

ONGC, a state-run explorer, had expressed interest in the assets and in July said it was expecting to submit a joint offer with Petrovietnam. [ID:nSGE66R02M]

The sale would bring to around $11.5 billion the amount BP has agreed from asset sales in recent months. The company has a divestment target of $25 billion to $30 billion over the next 18 months.

Under the deal TNK-BP would acquire BP's 35 percent stake in an offshore gas condensate project; a 32.7 percent stake in the Nam Con Son gas pipeline and a 33.3 percent stake in the Phu My 3 power plant.

All three of these assets form an integrated gas and power project with a production capacity of 30,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, on a working interest basis. (Additional reporting by Ngo Thi Ngoc Chau; Editing by Lincoln Feast)

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