Tuesday, 16 June 2009

TNK-BP acts to hire foreigners

TNK-BP, the oil major’s Russian joint venture, is hiring foreign technical experts as it starts to reverse the exodus of non-Russian staff following last year’s bitter battle for control of the company.
BP and its Russian partners, the Alfa-Access-Renova group of tycoons, have backed the recruitment of “tens” of foreign staff to provide skills needed to sustain production and to develop new fields.
The news emerged as TNK-BP, 50-50 owned by BP and AAR, announced a 13 per cent increase in its planned capital spending for 2009. The new total of about $3.4bn (£2.1bn) is in rouble terms about the same as the $4.3bn invested last year.
The decision is the first example of an important oil company revising upwards its capital spending plans after the rise in the price of oil, from about $32 for US crude in February to about $70 today.
Tony Hayward, BP’s chief executive, said this month TNK-BP’s production was rising and the venture was running well.
Last year, AAR challenged the British group for control of the venture, forcing out Robert Dudley, the BP-backed chief executive.
TNK-BP’s foreign staff faced severe pressure over visas, work permits and compliance with labour laws. Many left. AAR denied any connection to that pressure.
An agreement between BP and AAR to resolve the dispute was reached last August and signed in January.
Mikhail Fridman of AAR, TNK-BP’s chairman, last month became acting chief executive. The plan is for Pavel Skitovich and Maxim Barsky, two executives who have joined TNK-BP, to compete for the job until the year’s end. At that stage, one of them will be appointed.
That decision was taken as a sign BP’s hold on the venture was slipping.
Since Mr Dudley left, the acting chief executive was Tim Summers, TNK-BP’s chief operating officer, a former BP executive.
But appointment of more foreign experts was backed by BP.
Mr Summers told the Financial Times in April the venture could hire about 90 foreign specialists by the year’s end, given agreement by the rest of management.
While some of the company’s foreign experts had formerly been seconded from BP, the new staff to be hired are being taken on independently by TNK-BP.

No comments: