BP Replaces Azeri Staff as CEO Faces Demand to Raise Output

BP Plc added engineers in Azerbaijan and replaced officials as Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley met with the state oil company after the country’s president told Europe’s second-biggest crude producer to stem falling output.

Ten engineers “hand-picked” from BP’s assets in the North Sea, North America, Angola and Egypt will join the wells team in the Azeri capital of Baku, BP’s local office said today.

It appointed Jim Cowie vice president for wells, replacing Gary Christman, who joins the Global Wells Institute, it said in an e-mailed statement. Craig Wiggs takes over as vice president for midstream operations from Kemp Copeland, who will retire.

“These are planned moves,” Tamam Bayatli, a spokeswoman for the company’s domestic office, said by telephone.

BP made “grave mistakes” leading to an unexpected drop in output at the largest Azeri oil deposit, the country’s President Ilham Aliyev said in a televised speech on Oct. 10. He demanded “serious measures” and the replacement of those responsible.

Dudley met in London with State Oil Co of Azerbaijan CEO Rovnaq Abdullayev to discuss plans for the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli project, the Baku office said yesterday in a statement. ACG output fell 12 percent in the first half, according to data on BP’s website. It produced 35.4 million metric tons last year. The site makes up about 78 percent of Azeri output and BP gets about 3 percent of its crude from the former Soviet republic.

“BP is fully committed to Azerbaijan and the effective management of the ACG field complex, one of the world’s great oil fields,” Dudley said in yesterday’s statement. “It was an open and constructive meeting and the task ahead is clear.”

BP will resume output at the Deepwater Guneshli platform this month after closing it on Sept. 25 for planned maintenance, Bayatli said by e-mail. The site produced 116,000 barrels a day in the first half, BP data show. The Chirag, East Azeri, West Azeri and Central Azeri platforms continue as normal, she said.

Cowie will take over on Nov. 15 and Christman on Jan. 1.

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