The move follows BP's recent acquisition of additional assets in Russia and commitments by other oil majors to boost their presence in the world's second largest oil exporter.
"We are holding very preliminary talks with Yukos and are looking at whether there is a way to work together," BP's Moscow external affairs director Peter Henshaw said in a statement. He said the talks were in line with BP's plan to boost its presence in Russia, a strategy underscored last year when BP Chief Executive John Browne met Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky said his firm was in talks with many Western majors, including BP, over eastern Siberia exploration, but declined further comments. "Yukos has two main goals when looking for joint projects with foreign firms. In Russia we are looking to divide risks and we want to acquire international experience when planning projects abroad," Khodorkovsky said.
Khodorkovsky declined to give a forecast of oil reserves on Yukos' eastern Siberian fields, saying the multi-billion dollar exploration will continue there until 2005. "I can only say that producing oil in eastern Siberia can be profitable. We first have two refineries in the region and second it can be economically viable to supply eastern Siberian oil to China," Khodorkovsky said.