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BP put on hold a key hi-tech project worth 6.7 million pounds in Skolkovo

September 28/2011

(RIA Novosti) -- British oil major BP has put on hold a key hi-tech project worth 6.7 million pounds (USD 8 million) in Skolkovo near Moscow over fears that it may be accused of breaching a shareholder agreement with its Russian venture TNK-BP, Kommersant business paper reported on Wednesday.

In spring, the AAR consortium, which represents BP's Russian partners in TNK-BP blocked a USD 16 billion share swap and Arctic shelf development deal between the British oil giant and Russia's top oil producer Rosneft, saying the pact broke TNK-BP's 2008 shareholder agreement, under which all energy projects must be offered to TNK-BP first.

BP was expected to finance the Skolkovo project on a parity basis with the Skolkovo fund, headed by TNK-BP co-owner and billionaire shareholder Viktor Vekselberg, but at the last moment refused to sign the deal. The firm cited the same shareholder agreement with TNK-BP, an instrument previously used by the joint venture's Russian shareholders to block BP's deal with Rosneft, the paper said.

A source close to Skolkovo said BP's behavior was irrational because the British oil major's investment in the hi-tech R&D project was not the subject of the TNK-BP shareholder agreement.

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