BP says can act as bridge between Russia and West
By Dmitry Zhdannikov and Karolin Schaps
LONDON (Reuters) - BP (BP.L: Quote) can help enhance relations between Russia and the West and is talking to politicians across the world, its executives said on Thursday as they sought to calm shareholders' concerns over the oil major's large exposure to Russia.
Russia and the West are in a stand-off over Ukraine that is reminiscent of the Cold War. In the last few days, tensions have risen in the mainly Russian-speaking eastern part of Ukraine.
Britain's BP is one of the most exposed oil majors to Russia through its stake of just under 20 percent in the Kremlin's state oil champion Rosneft (ROSN.MM: Quote), the world's largest listed oil producer by output volumes.
"We will seek to pursue our business activities mindful that the mutual dependency between Russia as an energy supplier and Europe as an energy consumer has been an important source of security and engagement for both parties for many decades," Chief Executive Bob Dudley said.
"That has got to continue and I think we play an important role as a bridge," he told the annual shareholders' meeting.
The United States and European Union have imposed visa bans and asset freezes against Russian and Ukrainian individuals in response to Moscow's annexation of Crimea.
They have said they are willing, if necessary, to levy a further round of sanctions aimed at key sectors of the Russian economy such as energy, banking and mining.
On Thursday, questions about Russia dominated the shareholders' meeting overshadowing other usually topical issues such as executives' pay or the ongoing settlement with businesses and individuals suing over the massive 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Continued...