LONDON/MOSCOW Oct 5 Rosneft Chief Executive
Igor Sechin met investors in London on Friday, launching a charm
offensive by Russia's oil industry which is trying to court
foreign capital after a decade in which it became almost
synonymous with resource nationalism.
An end to rapid gains in oil prices and domestic crude oil
output over the past three years has pushed Russia's energy
companies into the arms of foreign investors, to meet their
growing needs for capital and technology to revive output
Sechin's meetings with London fund managers preceded a
similar meeting by oil minister Alexander Novak, scheduled for
Tuesday, and investor meetings by LUKOIL, Russia's No.
2 oil producer, later in October.
A source familiar with Sechin's remarks said the Rosneft
CEO, an ally of President Vladimir Putin of more than 20 years,
declined to answer questions about Rosneft's interest in BP's
50 percent stake in a Russian rival, TNK-BP.
Rosneft has said it wants to buy BP out of TNK-BP and is
seeking as much as $15 billion in debt funding, bankers have
BP could then reinvest part of the proceeds in a sizeable
equity stake in Rosneft itself, both companies have said.
But BP is obliged to negotiate in good faith until
mid-October with its partners, a quartet of Soviet-born
billionaires who have also expressed interest in buying out BP,
leaving talks on any strategic deal effectively on hold for now.
Instead, the source said, the discussion focused on the cost
of plans to upgrade Rosneft's refineries, which risk falling
short of rising Russian demand for gasoline and currently
produce fuel which lags European emissions standards.
Spending needs for a Venezuelan crude venture, Carabobo 2,
were also discussed, the source said.
In tow was an executive from the Moscow office of ExxonMobil
, which sealed a landmark Arctic drilling and shale
exploration venture with the Russian state company last year.
Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, who has accompanied Sechin
personally when the Rosneft CEO has made strategy presentations
to the Kremlin in recent months, has praised "political
leadership (and) policy partnerships" with Russia as a model for
the rest of the world.
The Exxon deal and subsequent deals with Eni and
Statoil, sealed when Putin was serving as prime
minister and Sechin was his deputy, were aimed in part at
securing Sechin's role as the industry's top dealmaker.
Russia's energy minister, Alexander Novak, told the
Financial Times that licenses to drill in Russia's Arctic
waters, currently the exclusive preserve of state oil companies,
could eventually be co-owned by foreigners.
A source close to Rosneft said Sechin was aiming to showcase
the work of a presidential commission on energy chaired by
President Vladimir Putin. Sechin is secretary of the commission,
his only formal policy role since leaving the government.
He has clashed openly with Arkady Dvorkovich, his successor
in the government of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, in
particular over plans to privatise Rosneft and other key energy
Both men say, however, that they are reluctant to see
Russian energy companies privatised at low valuations.