BP may be trying to sell $18 billion in assets
LONDON - BP PLC declined to comment today on a report that it is in talks about possibly selling $12 billion worth of assets including a stake in Alaska's Prudhoe Bay oil field to U.S. oil company Apache Corp. London's Sunday Times said Houston-based Apache was discussing the possibility of acquiring BP assets. The newspaper did not cite a source for its report. BP spokesman Robert Wine and Apache spokesman Bob Dye both said their companies would not comment on "speculation." Apache's exploration and production interests include the Gulf of Mexico, Western sedimentary basin of Canada, Egypt, western Australia, the North Sea and South America. The Sunday Times separately said that ExxonMobil Corp. is considering a bid for BP. Citing oil industry sources, the paper said ExxonMobil had approached the Obama administration for clearance to make a takeover offer.ExxonMobil, based in Irving, Texas, couldn't immediately be reached for comment. "We don't speculate on market rumors, and I have no comment about that," BP spokesman Steve Rinehart said from Houston on Sunday. BP has said it plans to raise $10 billion this year selling assets, but analysts said is likely simply speeding up an ongoing program. The company, which also isn't paying a dividend this year, agreed last month to set aside some assets as security while it builds up a $20 billion compensation fund to guarantee that the oil company pays for all the damage from the massive Gulf Coast oil spill. BP says it has already spent more than $3 billion dealing with the spill. Oil is spewing largely unchecked into the Gulf of Mexico as BP crews work to replace a leaky cap with a new containment system they hope will finally catch all the crude from the busted well. BP aims to have the new, tighter cap in place as early as Monday, and complete the capping operation within three to six days. Hope for permanently plugging the leak lies with two relief wells, the first of which should be finished by mid-August. According to federal estimates, between 88 million and 174 million gallons of oil have spilled into the Gulf since the April 20 explosion on the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig, which killed 11 workers.