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This post was edited by sansukong at 2012-10-29 05:18|
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Part: 1 of 2
Putin Is the New Global Shah of Oil
Exxon Mobil is no longer the world's number-one oil producer. As of yesterday, that title belongs to Putin Oil Corp – oh, whoops. I mean the title belongs to Rosneft, Russia's state-controlled oil company.
Rosneft is buying TNK-BP, which is a vertically integrated oil company co-owned by British oil firm BP and a group of Russian billionaires known as AAR. One of the top-ten privately owned oil producers in the world, in 2010 TNK-BP churned out 1.74 million barrels of oil equivalent per day from its assets in Russia and Ukraine and processed almost half that amount through its refineries.
With TNK-BP in its hands, Rosneft will be in charge of more than 4 million barrels of oil production a day. And who is in charge of Rosneft? None other than Vladimir Putin, Russia's resource-full president.
TNK-BP has been an economic dream, producing many billions in dividend payments for its owners – but it has been a relations nightmare. The partners have fought repeatedly. In 2008 Russian authorities arrested two British TNK-BP managers amid a dispute over strategy that forced then-CEO Bob Dudley (who now heads BP) to flee Russia – and that is just one of many partnership scandals.
The writing has been on the wall for TNK-BP since this time last year, when one of the AAR billionaires quit his role as CEO of the venture and declared that the relationship with BP had run its course. Since then speculation has raged over who might buy into the highly profitable venture.
Now we know: Rosneft is buying the whole thing, in a two-part deal. In the first part, Rosneft is acquiring BP's 50% stake of the joint venture in exchange for cash and Rosneft stock worth $27 billion. The deal will give BP a 19.75% stake in Rosneft. In stage two, AAR would get $28 billion in cash for its half, though this deal is not yet finalized.
Finalized it will be, however, because the billionaires of AAR are now eager to sell, rather than remain in a joint venture with the powerful Russian oil company. Rosneft gained much of its current heft at the expense of another Russian oligarch whom Putin threw under the bus, and the billionaires of AAR know they could easily meet the same fate if they try to partner with Rosneft as equals.
If it all comes to pass, Rosneft's daily production will jump to some 4.5 million barrels per day – enough to put the Russian firm neck and neck with Exxon in the race to be the world's top oil producer. And the deal that seals it will be worth something like $56 billion – for comparison, Nike is worth $34 billion and Kraft only $27 billion. If the TNK-BP deal goes through, it will be the largest in the industry since Exxon bought Mobil in 1999.
Numbers like that deserve a little contemplation. Russia is spending a heck of a lot to buy its own oil production – smells like nationalization to me. And with Vlad Putin – the most resource-driven leader in the world today – behind the controls, I dare say we're witnessing the "Saudi Aramco-ing" of Russian oil.
Putting Putin in a position of even greater resource power can only lead one place: to high oil prices and an amazing bull market in energy
Putin's Plan Is Working. Rosneft has grown dramatically in the last ten years – not by chance, but because Rosneft is Vladimir Putin's vehicle to reassert state ownership over a fair chunk of Russia's oil fields. The most famous example happened in 2003, when Putin charged privately held producer Yukos Oil with a $27-billion tax bill that bankrupted the company. The Russian president then handed Yukos' oil fields over to Rosneft, immediately boosting Rosneft's daily production from 400,000 barrels to 1.7 million barrels.
It was blatant nationalization. Yukos' chairman and founder, Russian billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was convicted of fraud and sent to prison. Overnight, Rosneft ballooned from a small producer to Russia's biggest oil company.
To be continued .....