Scrambling for cash to cover the escalating costs of the Gulf cleanup, BP has entered exclusive negotiations with the Apache Corporation to sell up to $12 billion of assets. Included in the package would be a major stake in Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay, the largest oil field in North America. BP also has two other sales in the works, with two companies reportedly interested in buying off BP’s 60 percent stake in Pan American Energy, an Argentinian oil producer, for some $9 billion. Other smaller asset packages, like its businesses in Venezuela, Colombia, and Vietnam, could earn another $2 billion on the market. Goldman Sachs estimates that the company’s cleanup and compensation costs will ultimately rise to around $70 billion. Many of BP’s other rivals may also use the opportunity offered by the company’s low share price to explore possible mergers. Exxon, for instance, has reportedly been told by regulators that, at least in theory, there would be no problem with a merger.