Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he had warned BP about the risks of setting up a venture with a group of Russian billionaires when he blessed its creation as president in 2003.
“They now have a problem with their Russian partners. I warned them several years ago that there will be problems,” Putin told the French Le Monde daily.
BP and the Russian billionaires, which include Viktor Vekselberg, Mikhail Fridman, German Khan and Len Blavatnik, publicly aired differences last week over foreign expansion strategy and personnel policy at the firm.
“Several years ago they [BP] created a joint venture splitting the firm 50-50. When they did it, and I was present at the signing ceremony, I told them: “Don’t do it. Agree to one of you having a controlling stake,” Putin said.
Putin said the Kremlin would not object to either BP or the tycoons holding a controlling stake in the new venture.
“A whipmaster was needed there… They [BP] told me they will manage and here is the result. They will always have frictions over who is the boss. These are commercial disputes within the company,” Putin said.
The conflict escalated on Thursday when BP rejected a demand from the Russian shareholders to replace TNK-BP’s long-serving chief executive Robert Dudley, whom the Russians accused of serving only the interests of BP.
Boost: Oil output to rise
Russia will raise its oil output in the next few years as new tax cuts will allow oil firms to invest more in exploration and production, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said.
“We are sure, in the next few years Russia’s oil output will increase,” Putin said.

(Reuters & Gulf News)