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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

BP Mulls Buying TNK Stake

LONDON -- Britain's BP has held talks that may lead to its biggest Russian oil investment yet -- buying a stake in TNK, industry sources said Tuesday.

"This is by no means a done deal, but it's an option being looked at," said one source, who stressed that the talks were at a very early stage and a deal could be many months away.

The possible move would be a boost for Russia's campaign to attract back Western investors scared away by past corruption scandals. For BP, it could be the breakthrough it has long sought into Russia's massive oil wealth, and the deal that rehabilitates its ill-starred 1997 investment in another Russian oil company, Sidanko, now a subsidiary of TNK.

The talks are linked to Tyumen Oil Co.'s well-publicized plan to merge fully with Sidanko, in which BP holds 10 percent and TNK 84 percent.

TNK is planning to consolidate its multiple assets, including Sidanko, bringing them under a new parent company TNK-International.

BP's multinational status and stock market value of more than $150 billion dwarfs privately held and debt-laden TNK in terms of financial firepower. But including Sidanko's near 400,000 barrels per day, TNK produces more than 1 million barrels of oil equivalent a day of oil and gas -- more than many Western rivals, and half as much as BP itself.

"We've made no secret of the fact that Russia is a place where we could deepen our interests, but it's too early to say how that might happen," a BP spokesman said.