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BP's Russian deal blocked by London court

By the CNN Wire Staff
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BP's partnership problems
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: BP cannot go ahead on its deal with Rosneft before February 25
  • The company resumes paying dividends, giving out 7 cents a share for the fourth quarter
  • BP is selling off two American refineries, Texas City and Carson
  • The oil giant set aside $40.9 billion to cover charges related to the undersea gusher

London (CNN) -- A judge in London temporarily blocked oil giant BP from going ahead on a deal with Russian state-owned Rosneft. The project to explore in the Russian Arctic cannot proceed before February 25, the Royal Courts of Justice ruled Tuesday.

The owners of BP's Russian partner TNK-BP filed the court action to block the deal.

Before the ruling, BP chief executive Robert Dudley said any injunction that stops the Rosneft-BP deal would be nothing more than a "timeout" and that nothing else would change.

He wants to "fast track" a settlement between the three companies, he said.

The injunction comes on the same day that BP announced it suffered an annual loss for 2010 because of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

It reported a loss of $4.9 billion, but that's after $40.9 billion set aside pre-tax in charges related to the spill.

It will also start paying dividends to shareholders again, it announced. They'll get 7 cents a share for the fourth quarter of 2010.

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Dividends were suspended in June 2010 amid a torrent of bad publicity about the undersea gusher.

An independent report into the spill ordered by President Barack Obama found that the Gulf of Mexico "disaster was both foreseeable and avoidable. The industry failed to manage the risk of an inherently dangerous operation," one of the commissioners told CNN last month.

"More than 14 million Americans live along the Gulf of Mexico. They have paid a grievous price for this disaster. Thousands were thrown out of work. Many have lost their homes," commissioner Frances Beinecke wrote in a special piece for CNN.

"2010 will rightly be remembered for the tragic accident and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and it is clear that as a result BP is a company in transition," said Dudley, who took over as chief executive after the spill.

He said the company would "emerge from this episode as a company that is safer, stronger, more sustainable, more trusted and also more valuable."

The company also announced it is selling off two American refineries, Carson and Texas City, which was the site of a disaster in 2005.

Fifteen people were killed and about 170 injured in an explosion at the Texas City, Texas, refinery in March of that year.

BP agreed last year to pay $15 million in fines to resolve Clean Air Act violations related to two fires and a leak at the refinery, unrelated to the 2005 explosion, the Environmental Protection Agency and Justice Department said in September.

It was the largest penalty ever recovered for Clean Air Act violations, the EPA said.

The sale of the two refineries is part of a plan to sell off $30 billion in assets this year, after setting out to divest itself of about $22 billion in assets in 2010.

CNN's Alex Mohacs, Jim Boulden and Per Nyberg contributed to this report.