BP-Rosneft deal makes Rosneft certainly the biggest oil producer in the world, and therefore a big power in the oil industry. Sales of oil will go to the east. But Rosneft will be a world player, so it will be doing oil business both in the east and in the west.
interview with John Peet, European Editor, The Economist.
What is your assessment of this agreement for Russia from the political and economic points of view?
It's interesting that it's a state-run oil company that is increasing its weight in the energy sector. It resolved the TNK-BP dispute, but the potential cost for Russia is an increase in state control in the oil industry.
Some media outlets are calling this "the deal of the century." Is this accurate?
It's certainly a very big deal, one of the biggest mergers in history. It's the biggest oil merger since Exxon merged with Mobil. But I don't think I would use a term like "the deal of the century," no.
In your opinion, what do all these changes mean for the strategic development of Rosneft?
It makes Rosneft certainly the biggest oil producer in the world, and therefore a big power in the oil industry – a little bit like the equivalent of Gazprom in the gas industry. I think it would be good for Russia if the next stage would be a further sale of Rosneft shares, to give it more private sector input.
So you believe that the company's next step and its goal will be to find new private shareholders?
That’s right. That would be a bonus for Russia, and for the company management.
What path do you predict for Rosneft – to the west or to the east?
I would guess that increasingly, sales of oil will go to the east. But Rosneft will be a world player, so it will be doing oil business both in the east and in the west. And I'm not sure it should decide which way to go.
Will Russia use British Petroleum as a tool for entering projects and assets of developed countries?
I think that's a good question. BP clearly has some expertise, which is useful to the company. And it's a private western company, so it can bring private western governance to Rosneft. And it would be useful in the Arctic, and on the world stage in general. But I think the alliance with BP is an interesting one, and it could yield benefits, both to BP and to Russia – and to Rosneft.
Will an ordinary Russian citizen and consumer get something out of this deal? Perhaps there will be lower gasoline prices in the country?
I would not think that the benefits are going to be seen directly by most Russian citizens. But having a big oil company is an asset to the country. And obviously, it's an asset in terms of taxes that are paid, further exploration of oil fields in the Arctic and elsewhere, which is probably a net benefit to the Russian citizens.