LONDON, June 20 (Reuters) - Russian state oil firm Rosneft has told Western oil majors and trading houses it will respect the crude export obligations of newly acquired rival TNK-BP until the end of 2013, market sources said.
The pledge brings relief to buyers in the West, who said they feared deals with firms such as Shell, Total , Statoil and with traders including Trafigura, Mercuria and Sunimex could be scrapped or changed as early as July.
Rosneft had no immediate comment.
Rosneft bought TNK-BP for $55 billion in shares and cash this year and started an aggressive consolidation including big changes in the way TNK-BP sells oil on the domestic market.
Traders said fears that Rosneft could make a similar move to affect TNK-BP’s shipments abroad, worth $22 billion a year, was one reason that prices rose for Russian crude exports, known as Urals, pushing the premium above benchmark dated Brent to a 10-month high this week.
“Rosneft has sent around absolutely identical letters. All existing contracts are now being taken over by Rosneft,” one of the sources said. He added that the terms under which buyers had agreed to purchase oil from TNK-BP would remain unchanged.
Rosneft became the world’s largest publicly listed oil firm after buying TNK-BP, Russia’s No.3 oil producer and an important exporter of oil via the Black Sea and the Baltic as well as to Poland and Germany by the inland Druzhba pipeline.
TNK-BP was the first Russian company to start selling oil through annual tenders, and Rosneft took largely the same approach a few years later.
Rosneft currently sells most of its oil to traders Glencore and Vitol as well as majors such as Shell and Eni .
For 2013, TNK-BP awarded volumes to Shell and Flontrano in the Mediterranean. From the Baltic it sells oil to Shell, Flontrano, Statoil, Trafigura and Total. In Poland it sells oil to trader Mercuria and in Germany it sells to trader Sunimex.
It also sells large volumes of oil via the Pacific port of Kozmino. TNK-BP’s total exports amount to around 600,000 barrels per day, worth $22 billion a year at current prices.