The Kremlin's Big Squeeze

A BP venture is the latest target as Moscow muscles in on producers

It's one of John Browne's biggest personal triumphs. In September, 2003, the CEO of oil giant BP (BP) sealed a deal to create TNK-BP, a joint venture that would become Russia's fourth-largest oil company and which today accounts for a quarter of the British company's global production. Now Browne's designated successor, Tony Hayward, is surely counting on the project to keep the oil—and profits—pumping, particularly after a year that saw BP's reputation and stock hammered because of repeated missteps in production and safety. One sign of TNK-BP's importance: Browne and Hayward met with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin at his dacha outside Moscow in March to discuss the venture.

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