Who will buy BP’s property in Vietnam?

July 23, 2010

LookAtVietnam – The UK’s BP group plans to sell its assets in Vietnam, worth $1.3 billion. The sale has captured special attention from the public
LookAtVietnam – The UK’s BP group plans to sell its assets in Vietnam, worth $1.3 billion. The sale has captured special attention from the public. Financial analysts have warned that the Government needs to follow closely every move of the merger and acquisition (M&A) deal.

BP plans to sell is its interest in Lan Tay-Lan Do gas field, Lan Tay gas rig, Nam Con Son pipeline, Dinh Co gas treatment plant and Phu My 3 power plant.

According to BP’s representative in Vietnam, the group’s assets in Vietnam are worth $1.3 billion. BP intends to sell its holdings in Vietnam and Pakistan to raise $10 billion to help pay for Gulf clean up and compensation.

At Lan Tay and Lan Do, BP holds 35 percent of total capital, while India’s National Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has 45 percent and the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) owns 20 percent.

At Nam Con Son pipeline, BP has 32.67 percent of stakes, PetroVietnam 51 percent, while the remaining shares are held by the US Conoco Phillips.

As for Phu My 3 thermo-power plant, investors include BP, Singaporean SembCorp and Japanese Kyushu Electric Power – Nissho Iwai. Each holds 1/3 stakes in the plant.

After BP announced its plan to sell its Vietnam assets, many wondered if PetroVietnam intended to buy them. PetroVietnam is the most powerful financial group in Vietnam. It asked for the Government’s permission to invest in all 13 thermo-power plant projects, the projects that Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) refused.

Phung Dinh Thuc, General Director of PetroVietnam, told VietNamNet that the company cannot make any concrete comments on the deal at this moment.

According to international press agencies, to date, only ONGC has voiced its interest in buying BP’s assets in Vietnam. ONGC now holds the biggest proportion of stakes in the project at 45 percent. Other oil and gas groups in Thailand and China have also voiced interest in purchasing these assets.

However, this will not be a normal M&A.

When talking with VietNamNet, Dr. Le Dang Doanh, a senior economist, explained: “The assets that BP is offering to sell are all joint ownership works, relate to mine exploitation, power production, i.e., projects that play very important roles in energy, security and natural resources. Therefore, this should not be seen as a normal M&A deal.”

“BP must discuss the deal with the Government of Vietnam, and the stakes transfer will only be carried out under conditions set by the Government,” he added.

The economist also noted that it is necessary to pay attention to who wants to control energy sources in the world and also have big ambitions in the East Sea.

Under international practice, when BP sells its stakes, its partners in the projects like PetroVietnam, or Indian and US groups will have priority.

Meanwhile, a BP representative in Vietnam admitted that the group has sent a document to the Government, asking for permission to sell its assets. Only after approval from the Government, will the group announce its detailed plan.

BP began investing in Vietnam in 1989, operating mainly in the oil and gas and power generation fields.

The Lan Tay-Lan Do gas field was discovered in 1992-1993. Its gas reserves can create 12 billion kwh of power every year. Through Nam Con Son pipeline, the gas from Lan Tay- Lan Do is provided to Phu My 3 power plant, which now provides 24 percent of the total electricity for Vietnam.

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