BP Moscow Office Resumes Work After Raid; Documents Sealed

MOSCOW (Dow Jones Newswires), Sep. 5, 2011

BP's Moscow office resumed work Monday following a raid last week by Russian court officials, a spokesman in Moscow for the U.K. oil giant said.

Documents gathered by the court bailiffs are currently sealed inside the office, and no papers have been removed, said the spokesman, Vladimir Buyanov.

BP said Friday that the search had been halted for 10 days and that it would challenge the operation in court.

Russian bailiffs on Wednesday and Thursday entered the BP office with special police armed with automatic weapons, as part of a search requested in a $3 billion lawsuit by investors in a traded unit of the oil company's Russian joint venture.

BP has called the lawsuit "absurd" and the search "unfounded" and directed at the wrong unit of the company.

The minority investors' attorneys said the search was carried out according to Russian law, regardless of which BP unit was searched.

The minority investors are seeking documents related to BP's Russia joint venture, TNK-BP Ltd., and to a failed Arctic deal between BP and state-controlled oil company Rosneft, as part of a lawsuit brought in Siberia's Tyumen Region Arbitration Court.

The minority investors, who live in Tyumen, have filed suits against BP and two of the U.K. company's executives at TNK-BP, claiming at least $3 billion in lost opportunities as a result of the failed Arctic deal with Rosneft.

The raid suggests BP's difficulties in Russia are likely to continue despite its efforts to put the fiasco of the Rosneft deal behind it, energy analysts said. BP initially disclosed the landmark alliance with Rosneft in January but found a deal blocked by opposition from its billionaire partners in TNK-BP Ltd.

Copyright (c) 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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