UPDATE 1-Trafigura joins Rosneft lenders with $1.5 bln oil deal
ST PETERSBURG, Russia, June 21 (Reuters) - Swiss trading house Trafigura has agreed to lend Russia's Rosneft $1.5 billion, joining rivals Vitol and Glencore as a major long-term oil buyer from the world largest crude producer.
The deal, signed on Friday, comes as Rosneft seeks to finance its expansion and repay funds it borrowed to acquire rival TNK-BP for $55 billion in cash and shares earlier this year.
Glencore and Vitol, the world's two largest oil trading houses, agreed earlier this year to lend Rosneft $10 billion in exchange for five years of supplies.
These export finance deals have given the two trading houses unprecedented access to Rosneft's crude.
Trafigura, the world's third largest trader, was one of the main buyers of TNK-BP crude for many years but Rosneft is widely expected to change the contracts from next year, when existing TNK-BP arrangements expire.
Deals with the likes of Glencore and Vitol allows Rosneft to lighten the burden on its balance sheet by reducing debts to banks as the money is being borrowed by the traders.
Rosneft is also planning to borrow as much as $60 billion from China in an export finance deal, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.
The Trafigura deal comes a few weeks after the trader decided to beef up its Russian operations, hiring the previous export chief of TNK-BP, Jonathan Kollek.
Separately, Rosneft clinched a $7 billion deal with Polish refiner PKN Orlen to deliver 8 million tonnes of crude oil to the Czech Republic via the Druzhba pipeline.