Rep. Markey Seeks Immediate Review Of BP-Rosneft
Author: Richard Cowan
BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg (L) shakes hands with Rosneft president Eduard Khudainatov at BP headquarters in London January 14, 2011.
Photo: Reuters/Luke MacGregor
Representative Edward Markey on Thursday asked Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to launch an immediate investigation into a $16 billion share-swap plan between BP and state-owned Russian oil firm Rosneft.
In a letter to Geithner, Markey, a leading House Democrat on energy and environmental issues, cited "several" national security concerns over the deal.
"I believe that there is clearly sufficient evidence that this deal may pose an unacceptable threat to U.S. national security," he said in asking Treasury's Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to conduct the probe.
Markey's letter to Geithner follows a request he made last week introducing the idea of a U.S. government look into the BP-Rosneft deal if national security concerns were established.
In his letter, Markey noted that BP is the largest producer of oil and natural gas, and the fourth largest oil refiner, in the United States. He also noted that BP is the largest supplier of fuel to the U.S. military.
Russian state-owned energy companies, Markey said, "have demonstrated a willingness to cut off energy supplies during confrontations," noting a 2009 disagreement between Russia's Gazprom and a Ukraine firm which he said prompted Gazprom to shut down supplies.
BP shares were down on Thursday, trading 1.37 percent lower in midafternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
Markey was one of Congress' harshest critics of BP last year following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill that claimed the lives of 11 workers and caused millions of dollars in damages to the southern coastline of the United States.
Markey, of Massachusetts, was also a strong backer of legislation which passed the House of Representatives that would have toughened liability of companies responsible for oil spills. That legislation died in the Senate, however.
The proposed deal that Markey wants the Obama administration to investigate would leave Rosneft with a 5 percent stake in BP and "reportedly make the Russian national oil company the single largest BP stakeholder," Markey said.
(Editing by Marguerita Choy and Jim Marshall)