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ENERGY TECH
BP asset sales in Colombia -- Europe next?

Iran oil minister heads to China seeking new investment
Tehran (AFP) Aug 3, 2010 - Iranian Oil Minister Massoud Mirkazemi heads to China on Wednesday seeking new investments in the country's energy sector, including funding for new refineries, a report said on Tuesday. The oil ministry's news agency Shana reported that Beijing has expressed its desire to invest in the refining sector, an area where Iran is still not self-reliant. In its drive to tighten sanctions against Iran, the United States has targeted its energy and downstream oil sector in particular, given that Tehran is OPEC's second largest crude exporter but still imports around 40 percent of its gasoline requirements.

In recent years Beijing has emerged as Iran's main economic partner, filling the gaps in the country's energy sector left by Western firms forced out by international sanctions. China is already investing 40 billion dollars in Iran's oil and gas industry, deputy oil minister Hossein Noqrehkar Shirazi said on Saturday. China backed the fourth set of UN sanctions against Iran over its nuclear ambition, but Beijing has consistently urged the world powers to resolve the crisis diplomatically. On Friday, it opposed the latest unilateral sanctions on Iran imposed by the European Union, which are also designed to strike at the vital energy sector, as well as its banking and transport segments.

A senior US lawmaker meanwhile called for imposing sanctions on China and Russia too for investing in Iran's energy sector. "It's time to implement our sanctions laws and demonstrate to Russia and China that there are consequences for abetting Tehran and flouting US sanctions," Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement. Ros-Lehtinen, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said firms run by the Russian and Chinese governments had invested "huge sums" in Iran's energy sector, "effectively bankrolling" Tehran's alleged nuclear weapons programme and its backing of Islamist groups. "Russia and China appear determined to continue to facilitate Iran's dangerous policies. This must not be allowed to continue without serious repercussions," she said. Her comments came as a top US State Department official, Robert Einhorn, was on a trip to Asia set to include a stop in Beijing to press China to fully enforce sanctions on Iran.
by Staff Writers
London (UPI) Aug 3, 2010
British oil giant BP Tuesday said it would sell its Colombian business to raise cash for the Gulf of Mexico cleanup, as speculation was soaring across Europe what the company may divert next.

BP said Tuesday that a Colombian and a Canadian company had agreed to buy BP's Colombian business for $1.9 billion -- the first step of a larger attempt to raise $30 billion over the next 18 months to pay for the oil spill in the gulf.

"BP today announced that it has agreed to sell its oil and gas exploration, production and transportation business in Colombia to a consortium of Ecopetrol, Colombia's national oil company (51 percent), and Talisman of Canada (49 percent)," it said in a statement. "The two companies will pay BP a total of $1.9 billion in cash ... for 100 percent of the shares in BP Exploration Company (Colombia) Limited, the wholly owned BP subsidiary company that holds BP's oil and gas exploration, production and transportation interests in Colombia."

The Colombian business owns interests in five oil fields, four separate pipelines and two offshore exploration blocks. Net proved reserves total some 60 million barrels of oil equivalent, the company said.

The sale comes after the resignation of BP Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward in the wake of the worst-ever quarterly result for the British company, which reported a second-quarter loss of $17 billion.

Hayward, who will step down in October to make way for American Bob Dudley, said he was "delighted with the price we have achieved for these assets."

The sale comes after BP last month agreed to sell a package of assets in the United States, Canada and Egypt to Apache, which has headquarters in Texas, for $7 billion. BP also announced it's planning to get rid of assets in Pakistan and Vietnam, which analysts estimate to be worth around $1.7 billion.

Meanwhile, speculation in Europe is ripe over what assets BP might sell in Europe.

German business weekly Wirtschaftswoche last week cited unidentified investment bankers as saying that BP plans to sell its Aral chain of gas stations. BP owns 2,500 Aral gas stations in Germany that are estimated to be worth around $2.6 billion. The weekly said possible buyers include France's Total, European gas station company Avia and Russia's oil company Rosneft, although the latter has already denied being interested.

BP representatives have in the past days denied that the downstream sector would be affected by sales.



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