Linklaters is in line to benefit from a pending partnership between oil giant BP and China’s biggest producer of refined oil products Sinopec.
It is understood that Linklaters has been at the forefront of high-level partnership talks between BP and Sinopec – a deal that could rival BP’s alliance with TNK of Russia in 2003.
While Linklaters refused to comment on its involvement in the negotiations, the magic circle firm has a longstanding relationship with BP as its principal corporate adviser.
Last year, BP slashed its UK advisers from almost 100 to just 10, naming Linklaters as one of its leading representatives.
Earlier this month, Linklaters’ corporate partners Lee Taylor and Owen Clay led the team advising BP on the £5.1bn sale of petrochemicals business Innovene to UK chemicals company Ineos.
In 2003, Linklaters also advised BP on the joint purchase of National Grid Transco’s (now National Grid) liquified natural gas capacity in the Isle of Grain, Kent, a deal which represented about 5 per cent of the UK’s gas demand.
If successful, the deal between BP and Sinopec is expected to be as big as BP’s historic partnership with TNK, which created Russia’s second-largest oil company. The £8bn TNK partnership added 1.7m barrels per day to BP’s total output.
Any deal between BP and Sinopec would be scrutinised by Chinese authorities and would need to be permitted by the country’s State Council.
Industry commentators say that although Beijing authorities are unlikely to open the domestic market to foreign companies, it might allow the BP Sinopec partnership as a test case.