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Moscow office raid deals new blow to BP

posted 31 Aug 2011, 08:55 by Mpelembe   [ updated 31 Aug 2011, 08:58 ]
Russian bailiffs have raided the Moscow offices of BP - causing new problems for the British oil giant. It comes just a day after the signing of a top deal between Russian Rosneft and American Exxon.

RUSSIA-BP RAID -By mid morning on Wednesday all was quiet at BP's Moscow's offices

But just a few hours earlier witnesses said around 15 Russian special force officers stormed the building without warning and sealed it off.

No reason was given for the raid.

But lawyer Dmitriy Chepurenko said it was connected with a lawsuit filed by BP's Russian partners TNK-BP over a failed bid to team up with Russia in the Arctic.


"At the moment the bailiffs are working at the BP office. They are inspecting the documents that are in the office to find out whether there are any documents concerning the strategic partnership between BP and Rosneft companies."

The raid is being seen as another humiliation for BP.

It took place just a day after their rival ExxonMobil signed an agreement with Russia's state-controlled oil company Rosneft.

The deal gives Exxon access to potentially substantial reserves.

It also ends BP's hopes of developing Arctic offshore oil fields with the world's top oil producer.

BP had tried to secure a deal with Rosneft in January but it collapsed following objections from TNK-BP's shareholders.

They said all BP ventures in Russia needed to involve them and proceeded to take legal action.

As a result a $16 billion share swap between the two companies was also halted.

It's not the first time BP's Moscow headquarters have been searched.

In 2008 a similar raid took place during a corporate stand off at TNK-BP.

The then TNK-BP boss Bob Dudley was forced to leave Russia.

He's now BP's CEO - and after these latest developments he clearly has a few new problems to deal with.

Kirsty Basset, Reuters.