Wires

UPDATE 1-TNK-BP keeps dividend decision on hold

* No dividends yet paid this year

* TNK-BP gives green light to Rospan gas project

(Adds further details) By Vladimir Soldatkin

MOSCOW, Oct 5 (Reuters) - TNK-BP's directors heldback from deciding on a dividend payout at their meeting onFriday, with the Russian oil company saying only that the matterwould be discussed "over the coming weeks", when bidding isexpected to be underway for BP's 50 percent stake.

In July a $1 billion proposed interim payout on this year'sprofits was blocked by BP's billionaire Soviet-born partners ina long saga of disputes over the running of Russia'sthird-biggest oil producer.

"The board will consider the recommendation and the issueof dividends more broadly over the coming weeks," TNK-BP said ina statement after the board meeting on Friday.

Last year TNK-BP paid dividends totalling $7.5 billion,split equally between BP and the Russian partners and in thenine years since BP formed the joint venture it has reaped $19billion in dividends, nearly triple its original investment.

But BP put its stake up for sale in June after anothercollapse in shareholder relations, prompting acquisitivestate-controlled oil company Rosneft to say it wouldlike to buy the stake. The AAR consortium representingshareholders Mikhail Fridman, German Khan, Viktor Vekselberg andLen Blavatnik then pitched in saying it too would like BP'sstake.

AAR has said it will make an offer by Oct. 17, the end of a90-day period when AAR had exclusive rights to make an offer.

GAS PROJECT

On Friday TNK-BP also said the development of the Rospan gasproject received board support, "with final approval expectednext week" for full-field development of the licence areas,which would double TNK-BP's gas output.

(Editing by Megan Davies and Greg Mahlich)

((vladimir.soldatkin@thomsonreuters.com)(+7 495 775 1242)(Reuters Messaging:vladimir.soldatkin.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: RUSSIA TNK BP/