BP looks set to win a controlling stake in Pakistan State Oil (PSO) in a deal worth around $600 million.The Pakistani Government owns 54 per cent of PSO and is selling 51 per cent stake in the group, leaving 3 per cent in government hands.

BP has been competing with Petronas, the Malaysian oil and gas giant, and Vitol, the oil marketing company. PSO owns two refineries and 3,700 petrol stations across Pakistan.

While BP declined to comment, the managing director of its business partner, the investment bank, MerchantBridge, said: “Pakistan’s economy is growing at between 6 and 7 per cent a year. We take the view that that will continue for the foreseeable future and wish to participate in that growth.” He added: “BP can bring additional operating improvements to the business.”

Tony Hayward takes over as chief executive at BP from July. In the event that BP is successful in its bid for PSO, formalising the deal would be one of Mr Hayward’s first investments as head of the oil group.