Exclusive: BP ring-fences CEO Dudley from Iran decision-making

Tue Nov 22, 2016 7:42am EST
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By Ron Bousso

LONDON (Reuters) - BP has created a new executive committee to explore business in Iran which will exclude its American chief executive Bob Dudley in a bid to avoid potential violations of U.S. sanctions still in place.

The new committee is headed by BP's chief financial officer Brian Gilvary, who is a British national. Gilvary will coordinate the oil major's operations in Iran and any discussions with the country's national oil company, according to industry sources.

The move highlights the lengths to which multinationals will go to exploit lucrative new business in Iran, which is only slowly emerging from years of isolation that crippled the OPEC member's energy-reliant economy.

The election of Donald Trump has added to uncertainty over Tehran's push for foreign investment to revive its economy. The republican president-elect has criticized the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran that curbed Tehran's nuclear ambitions in return for the lifting of some economic sanctions.

A lack of clarity over the terms of new production contracts Tehran has yet to finalize, difficulties facing the banking system due to continued U.S. sanctions, and companies' severe budget constraints due to lower oil prices have kept most firms on the sidelines.

Sanctions imposed by the United States on Iran, which prevent U.S. companies from dealing with Iran, remain in place.

Total was the first major western company to sign a deal with Iran earlier this month on further development of the giant South Pars gas field in the Gulf. Norway's DNO has also agreed to study the development of the Changuleh oil field in western Iran.

BP's new executive committee also includes Bernard Looney, upstream chief executive, who is Irish, Dev Sanyal, chief executive of alternative energy and executive vice president, regions, an Indian national, and General Counsel Rupert Bondy, a Briton.   Continued...

FILE PHOTO: BP's Chief Executive Bob Dudley speaks to the media after year-end results were announced at the energy company's headquarters in London, Britain, February 1, 2011. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett/File Photo