MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin and BP Chief Executive Lord Browne are going to meet on Friday to discuss the possible economic uncertainty in Russia due to collapse of the biggest national oil company Yukos.
Browne is expected to seek assurances from Putin that the uncertainty will pass. After all, his Russian joint venture, TNK-BP, has been caught in the turmoil, because it faced a back tax claim for nearly $1 billion and faces being shut out of the country's biggest oil field auctions as the state haphazardly cements its influence over strategic sectors of the economy.
BP PLC has been burned in Russia before. After investing $500 million in the Sidanco oil group in 1997, it threatened to pull out of Russia igged bankruptcy auctaltogether when Sidanco was stripped of its main production asset in an apparently rion two years later.
So when TNK-BP was signed into existence under the gaze of Putin and British Prime Minister Tony Blair with an $8 billion investment in August 2003, the tie-up was heralded as a sign that Putin's Russia was a stable place to do business after more than a decade of elbows-out capitalism.