The position of TNK-BP chief executive Robert Dudley was blasted as “untenable” yesterday by four Russian billionaires who own half the joint oil venture after he fled the former communist state last week.
A spokesman for AAR, the holding company for the oligarchs Mikhail Fridman, Viktor Vekselberg, Len Blavatnik and German Khan, said: “It is untenable for Dudley to run the firm from outside Russia. He should step down.”
Dudley was appointed by BP to run the 50/50 joint venture, which accounts for a quarter of the British oil giant’s production. Under the terms of the venture only BP can appoint a new chief executive.
Dudley left Russia last Thursday after a campaign of “extreme harassment” from AAR and state regulators. He now runs Russia’s third largest oil business from a secret location
AAR argues that Dudley only works on behalf of BP. The British firm denies this, saying that Dudley represents the interests of all shareholders.
A BP spokesman said: “We still back Bob, and believe he can run the firm from outside Russia.”
BP is considering whether to launch legal action against AAR at Stockholm’s international arbitration court over the dispute, as provided for in the shareholder agreement signed by the two parties.
BP began a case in June in the British courts to recover a £180m overpayment it says it made to AAR.
BP will unveil its second-quarter results on Tuesday with the market expecting replacement cost profit before exceptionals of $7.6bn, up from $5.5bn a year ago.