TNK-BP personnel conflicts persist; VP leaves

TNK-BP Ltd., long under fire from its Russian backers, said the firm's executive vice-president for downstream Tony Considine would leave Sept. 15 to "pursue other opportunities."

Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 25 -- TNK-BP Ltd., long under fire from its Russian backers, said the firm's executive vice-president for downstream Tony Considine would leave Sept. 15 to "pursue other opportunities."

"Tony has led the transformation of our refining and marketing business, including value chain optimization," said TNK-BP COO Tim Summers, who added that Considine's work had improved the company's bottom line.

The announcement of Considine's departure came just a month after TNK-BP CEO Robert Dudley left Russia in the face of what he said was "sustained harassment."

Dudley, who has been banned by a Moscow court from working in Russia for 2 years, continues to run TNK-BP from the UK. In the course of his duties this week, Dudley accused Russian labor authorities of abusing their power.

In a letter sent to top officials in the employment, security, justice, and corruption authorities, Dudley said the frequency and timing of inspections carried out against the company suggested "an abuse of power by the (Moscow) State Labor Inspectorate as well as a possible interest on its part in the outcome of the inspections."

In his seven-page latter, Dudley suggested that the abuse of power was instigated by higher authority, saying, "The unambiguous conclusion is that the said officials were carrying out somebody's orders."

Yuri Gertsy, who heads Russia's Federal Service for Employment and Labor Regulations, denied Dudley's claims. Gertsy said the Moscow division acted properly as indicated by the court decision, which said Dudley broke labor laws and [that] barred him from holding executive office for 2 years.

Dudley's leadership of the company is said to be one of the major issues that threatens to break up the 5-year-old partnership between BP PLC (BP) and its billionaire Russian partners. The Russian backers have called for Dudley's resignation.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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