Page last updated at 13:44 GMT, Tuesday, 22 July 2008 14:44 UK

BP says 60 staff leaving Russia

Plate on the TNK-BP offices in Moscow
The joint venture has been increasingly troubled in recent months

BP has said the last 60 of its staff seconded to joint venture TNK-BP are being recalled, and will leave Russia in the next two to three months.

Initially, BP had 150 staff members in Russia but 90 have already been diverted to other BP projects.

The remaining 60 technical specialists are being pulled out of the country.

The 150 people initially had visa problems and then found their work permits suspended as a legal case about their status has dragged on.

Frosty relations

Relations between the two sides of TNK-BP have recently deteriorated.

BP has accused certain Russian shareholders of trying to gain control of the business.

Meanwhile a group of major Russian shareholders have called for TNK-BP's British chief executive Robert Dudley to be removed from his post.

TNK-BP's offices were raided in March, and this was followed by legal challenges to the status of the BP employees seconded to the joint venture.

'Business decision'

After the announcement, Lamar Mckay, BP's executive vice president said: “We are taking this action reluctantly.

"These technical experts have played a huge part in making TNK-BP one of Russia's most successful oil companies in the past few years."

He said since it was founded in August 2003 the company's oil output had grown by an annual average of 5.8%, and that it had also paid $70bn taxes and duties as well as $20 billion in dividends.

He said the decision to redeploy staff was "a business decision".

BP had numerous other ventures including in Azerbaijan, the Middle East and the Gulf of Mexico, where their skills are needed, he said.

The firm said staff had been unable to provide their services to TNK-BP since work visa complications prevented them from doing so in March.

Once this problem had been dealt with, they were prevented from returning to their duties by security staff in TNK-BP and subsequently by a court injunction.

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