UPDATE 1-Rosneft says discusses trading issues with Gunvor

* Discussed cooperation in exploration, upstream projects

* Meeting amid reports of rift between Sechin and Timchenko

(Adds detail, Rosneft comments)

MOSCOW, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Russia's top crude producer Rosneft said on Tuesday its powerful chief executive Igor Sechin met the co-owners of international oil trading house Gunvor to discuss trading issues, amid reports of a rift between Sechin and Gunvor's co-owner Gennady Timchenko.

Rosneft said Sechin, a long-standing confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin, met Timchenko and Torbjorn Tornqvist at the Russian company's head office.

"The three discussed current aspects in cooperation, including trading and logistics, and also exchanged views on the present state of the global markets," Rosneft said in a statement.

They also discussed possible cooperation in joint exploration and production projects "that would help expand the potential for partnership between the two companies".

Geneva-based Gunvor, a privately-owned company co-founded by Tornqvist and Timchenko, was left with no Russian crude at the last major tender organised by Rosneft. Gunvor's failure to win the tender was a surprise, as previously it had routinely won Rosneft tenders.

Gunvor's spectacular rise in just a decade from obscurity into an $80-billion annual revenue trading house, has long attracted controversy.

Several Russian opposition figures have suggested its success was due to close ties between Timchenko and Putin. While acknowledging a long association, the two have denied they have a business connection.

There has been media speculation in Russia that Timchenko has fallen out with Putin's main energy advisor Sechin, deputy prime minister until May.

"We have neutral, normal, working relations ... The newspapers are writing that we are quarrelling - it is wrong. We don't have any problems," Timchenko told Reuters in June in a rare interview.

On Tuesday, Rosneft published pictures of Sechin hugging Timchenko, both with broad smiles, and the trio, including Tornqvist, holding a CSKA Moscow ice hockey team shirt.


To read the story on Rosneft's web site please click at


"The meeting was held in an atmosphere of good partnership," Rosneft said.

(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; editing by Jason Bush and Keiron Henderson)

((vladimir.soldatkin@thomsonreuters.com)(+7 495 775 12 42)(Reuters Messaging: vladimir.soldatkin.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))