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Venezuela gives BP approval to discuss assets sale


A BP petrol station is reflected in a car, in London April 28, 2009. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor
A BP petrol station is reflected in a car, in London April 28, 2009. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

By Marianna Parraga

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela has granted BP <BP.L><BP.N> permission to negotiate the sale of its assets in the South American OPEC member, Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said on Sunday.

Last month, he said BP would need authorization from the administration of President Hugo Chavez to sell its minority stakes in two exploration and production joint ventures with Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA, as well as its interest in the Petromonagas crude upgrader.

The assets are valued at between $850 million and $1 billion. BP has been seeking to raise up to $30 billion to pay for its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

"They (BP) consulted us, asked if we had a problem ... and we said no," Ramirez told reporters at a polling station during a parliamentary election in Venezuela. "Of course, we have to see, and to review what they present us with."

He said PDVSA would be interested in taking over 100 percent of BP's local assets, "But they will negotiate, and I imagine that when they are ready they will make us an offer."

BP has been seeking to raise up to $30 billion to pay for the oil spill caused by the April explosion of its Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico.

The disaster, which marred the coasts of four U.S. states and prompted a ban on new deepwater drilling, wiped about $70 billion off BP's market value.

(Additional reporting and writing by Daniel Wallis; editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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