Fossil fuel giant BP is facing intensifying pressure to exit its near 20 per cent stake in Kremlin-backed energy group Rosneft, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Shares in the London-listed energy giant tanked 4.7 per cent yesterday, despite oil prices hitting $100 per barrel for the first time in eight years and gas prices booming on European benchmarks over the course of the day.
In Moscow, Rosneft’s shares roughly halved in value, wiping billions off the value of BP’s holding in the company.
This contrasts both with BP’s recent story of bumper profits and billions of dollars worth share buybacks, and the underlying $2.7bn profit it made from Rosneft last year as its second biggest shareholder.
Bernard Looney, BP chief executive, has refused to be drawn on the situation in Ukraine, insisting recently that “we stick to business.”
Both him and Bob Dudley, his predecessor, sit on the Rosneft board alongside its chief executive Igor Sechin.
Sechin is a close Putin ally who has been under US sanctions since 2014.
Dr Taras Kuzio, research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, has slammed BP’s involvement in Rosneft and has called for UK firms to divest from Russian companies with ties to the Kremlin.
He said: “It can no longer be tenable for any British firm to share in the riches of firms enabled by Putin’s murderous kleptocracy. If BP is not prepared to immediately divest their assets in Rosneft, then the British government should via sanctions or other means compel them to do so.”
Commenting on the wider investment landscape in the UK, he also called for all British and Western investment in Russia to be immediately closed, including to BP.
“It is time to shut down the London Laundrymat and return the name to London from Londongrad,” he argued.
The National Portrait Gallery recently cut its ties with BP, concluding a three decade relationship between both partie.