BP pulls out technical staff as TNK-BP signs pact with Venezuela's PDVSA

Mumbai: BP's equal joint venture in Russia, TNK-BP and Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA have agreed to set up a joint working group to develop oil production projects amidst a bitter battle between BP and its Russian partners in TNK-BP for control of the oil venture, Russian news agency reports said.
Venezuelan energy and oil minister and PDVSA president Rafael Dario Ramirez Carreno and TNK-BP executive director German Khan signed the agreement towards this in the presence of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

The two companies also agreed on joint technical and commercial offers for possible joint projects, prompting BP to pull out 60 of its remaining technical specialists from Russia, giving ground in a battle with its Russian partners over oil venture TNK-BP.

BP has now withdrawn all its 148 technical specialists from TNK-BP, to be redeployed in BP's businesses globally.

Russia's migration service also declined to issue a visa to TNK-BP chief executive Robert Dudley without a valid contract, saying his contract has already expired and there is no proof of it being renewed.

The move, the latest amidst a long-running battle at TNK-BP, a 50-50 joint venture between BP and four Russian billionaires over the firm's management and strategy, may help the Russian co-owners oust the BP-backed executive.

Russian billionaire partners trying to gain control of TNK-BP, the world's third-largest non-state controlled oil company by market value, have been attacking BP and the joint venture's BP-appointed chief executive over use of expatriate technical staff.