BP in talks with Apache and others on assets: source

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) - Under-pressure BP Plc BP.LBP.N is in talks with U.S. oil and gas company Apache Corp APA.N and other companies over potential asset sales, a source familiar with the situation said on Sunday, as it weighs how to pay costs related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

A BP petrol station is reflected in a car, in London April 28, 2009. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

BP, the British energy major, said in June it wanted to raise $10 billion from sell-offs to boost a $20 billion fund to clean up the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

Talks over any potential asset sales are at an exploratory stage, the source said. It is uncertain any plans will be advanced enough to be disclosed before BP announces second-quarter earnings later this month.

The Sunday Times earlier reported that BP is in talks to sell up to $12 billion in assets to Apache. The paper said Houston-based Apache approached BP with a plan a few weeks ago and negotiations were under way on the structure of an agreement.

The Wall Street Journal said on Sunday a deal with Apache could be up to $10 billion and could include stakes in BP’s Alaskan oil fields. The paper also said BP is moving along two tracks -- it is in talks with Apache on a package deal worth $10 billion and in talks with a number of companies on a spectrum of assets.

A BP spokesman declined to comment on market rumors or speculation. Apache also declined comment.

The Sunday Times reported the Obama administration had told Exxon Mobil Corp XOM.N and another group -- which it said was thought to be Chevron Corp CVX.N -- it would not block a bid for BP, citing oil industry sources.

Exxon had sought clearance from Washington although there was no certainty it would make a move, the newspaper said.

Separately, the Independent newspaper reported on Sunday that Standard Chartered PLC STAN.L was believed to be one of the banks behind a $5.25 billion crisis fund set up for BP in May.

The bank contributed $2 billion to the fund, with Credit Suisse CSGN.VX, Morgan Stanley MS.N and Goldman Sachs Group Inc GS.N said to be among those providing the balance, the newspaper said.

Standard Chartered was named in media reports in June as one of the banks advising on BP’s asset sales.

Both Standard Chartered and BP declined to comment to the Independent on Sunday.

Separately, the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Spill and Offshore Drilling said in a statement it will hold its first public meeting in New Orleans on July 12-13.

It will include testimony from Gulf Coast citizens, BP, and leading U.S. officials, the commission said.

Reporting by Megan Davies and Paul Sandle; additional reporting by Anna Driver in Houston editing by Hans Peters and Jeffrey Benkoe