We all knew that the collapse of BP’s deal with Rosneft to drill in the Arctic was more damaging for BP than it was for its Russian prospective partners.
For BP, the deal represented the chance not only to tap the significant Arctic resources for which Rosneft holds licenses, but also a chance to diversify away from the Gulf of Mexico, and to show the world it can still drill safely in difficult places, even after last year’s spill.
But Rosneft, while preferring the technical skills BP had to offer, still has plenty of options on the table. Big oil companies are lining up to take BP’s place and exploit the Arctic’s resources themselves. And none of them bring the baggage of existing Russian partners who could get in the way.
As we near the end of BP’s AGM, one thing we can report is that Bob Dudley is still standing. Which is more than can be said of several protesters against the development of Canadian oil sands who were carted out, in some cases lifted off their feet, after shouting across Mr Dudley as he tried to defend such developments.
It has not been an easy ride for Mr Dudley in his first AGM as CEO, nor for the chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg. Several representatives of Gulf of Mexico communities were banned and if the company thought barring such people would limit criticism on this front they were wrong. One of the toughest moments for the board came when one woman read out a testimony excoriating the company from the father of Gordon Jones, one of the rig workers who was killed almost a year ago today.
Thursday morning sees Bob Dudley’s first AGM as BP chief executive, and it is not the one he would have planned.
After taking charge last year in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico spill, the new BP CEO initially won plaudits for his plan to overhaul the company’s safety procedures.
Then came his big eye-catching move, the deal that could seal his reputation as CEO. His plan for a $16bn share swap with Rosneft would open up the Russian arctic for exploration and provide an source of revenues that could rival the North Sea.