By Max Clarke

Oil and energy giant BP’s arctic oil exploration hopes with the Russian state-backed Rosneft were overruled by a Swedish court last month, to the displeasure ot BP’s shareholders. The Swedish Arbitration Tribunal ruled out the possibility of a share swapping deal valued at $16 billion.

This morning, however, BP announced that it has agreed with Rosneft to extend the deadline for completing the share swap agreement (previously announced on 14 January) to 16 May 2011. The agreement between the two companies followed the 8 April decision of the arbitral tribunal to allow them to discuss extension of the deadline. This means that the share swap agreement will now not terminate on 14 April 2011.

The share swap agreement, between BP and Rosneft, together with the related Arctic Opportunity, were originally announced on 14 January 2011. Both the share swap agreement and the Arctic Opportunity remain subject to an interim injunction.

In a press release, a BP spokesperson said:

BP intends to continue with the arbitration process to obtain a final award on all outstanding issues, including whether or not the interim injunction should continue.

BP remains fully committed to TNK-BP as its primary business vehicle in Russia and fully supports its strategy and investment programme, which should ensure its success for decades to come. BP also owns a 1.3% interest in Rosneft and has been exploring offshore Sakhalin for over a decade and engaging in Arctic studies.