BP in talks with China over sale of Argentinian assets

BP is reported to be in talks with China's third-largest oil company over the sale of its Argentinian business for £6.3 billion. The group is understood to be in discussions with CNOOC, which is also China's largest offshore oil explorer, over its 60 per cent stake in Argentina's Pan American Energy.

BP is keen to offload assets to help it meet the compensation bill it faces following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. It has said that the clean-up bill had risen to 11.2 billion US dollars while it is also setting up a compensation fund.

Pan America is Argentina's second-largest oil producer, and CNOOC already holds a 20 per cent stake in the company. Chinese energy companies are keen to buy up oil and gas resources to ensure the country has enough fuel to support its rapidly growing economy.

BP has assets worth more than £200 billion, but it plans to sell around 10 per cent of these by March next year. It is understood to be involved in talks over offloading its Vietnamese and Venezuelan oil and gas assets for £1.2 billion to its Russian joint-venture firm TNK-BP. It is also thought that the group hopes to raise £680 million through selling its oil and gas exploration and production operations in Pakistan.

The explosion at the Deepwater Horizon well on April 20 killed 11 workers and caused an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil to gush into the Gulf - the largest offshore spill in history. Oil has not been spilling into the ocean since mid-July and was finally sealed permanently on September 19.

But despite the mounting costs resulting from the oil spill, the group cheered investors earlier this month when new chief executive Bob Dudley, who took over from embattled boss Tony Hayward, hinted that it would resume dividend payments next year.

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