Russian authorities are refusing to renew the work visas of 150 British Petroleum (BP) staff based in Russia as part of a joint venture between BP and Russian oil company TNK (FT). This is likely the next move in Russia’s attempts to muscle BP out of the JV into order to facilitate a sale to Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy monopoly
Thus far, Russia’s bullying has included raided offices, harassment, and criminal charges. Pushing BP out of the JV would be consistent with Vladimir Putin’s determination to bring all of Russia’s energy reserves under his control.
In the short term, the struggle isn’t likely to seriously affect oil supply. In the long run however, the move could mean more oil in the hands of an increasingly belligerent and assertive Russia, which is bad news for just about everybody.