Oligarchs in fresh bid to force out BP
Joint venture boss Bob Dudley could be forced to leave Russia due to visa problems
Bob Dudley, chief executive of BP’s Russian joint venture TNK-BP, could be forced out of the country in the next two weeks, it emerged yesterday.
In a dramatic escalation of the oil giant’s dispute with its oligarch partners, Russia’s Federal Migration Service (FMS) said it may not be able to grant Dudley a visa because his work contract has expired.
BP executive vice president Lamar Mckay said: “I am extremely concerned that, yet again, there has been inappropriate and unauthorised interference by TNK-BP shareholder managers in this process.”
Four Russian billionaires – Mikhail Fridman, Viktor Vekselberg, Len Blavatnik and German Khan – own a 50 per cent stake in TNK-BP, which is consolidated in holding firm AAR. They want Dudley, a BP appointee, to be replaced because they say he only represents the British firm’s interests. A BP spokesman denied this: “Bob Dudley is still the right man for the job.”
The billionaires have refused to renew Dudley’s contract, which expired last December. They have told the FMS he no longer has a role at the oil company, which produces 900,000 barrels of oil a day – a quarter of BP’s output. Dudley’s visa expires at the end of July.
Meanwhile, 16 senior Russian TNK-BP workers said they would launch a discrimination case against Dudley, saying he had held back the advancement of local workers. Dudley denied this saying the dispute had reached a “new low.”