There’s a whiff of gentility around the divorce of BP and the AAR consortium. Wildcat is reminded of Tolstoy’s courts, where dancers left the ballroom with rictus grins after stomping on each other’s toes during the mazurka.
The choreography of the retreat belies a turbulent marriage that “descended, literally, into fisticuffs”, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, you could say.)
An insider familiar with the situation, who wished to remain anonymous, played down Putin’s reference to domestic violence. “I’m not sure there was ever a physical confrontation,” he told Wildcat on Tuesday. “Things certainly got tense and fractious when TNK-BP’s offices were raided in 2008. Maybe Putin’s referring to that bust-up. But I’d say that relations between BP and AAR were more like a civilised chess game, rather than explosive.”
Whether it was chess, boxing or chess-boxing, everyone is studiously ignoring the blackened eyes and bloodied noses. BP is still technically involved in arbitration proceedings with AAR’s oligarchs, who claimed damages against the UK oil giant last year for breaching a shareholder pact by agreeing a share swap and Arctic exploration deal with Rosneft.
“The Rosneft announcement has no impact on the ongoing arbitration, and is subject to strict confidentiality so we cannot comment,” a BP spokesman said on Wednesday. However, a second source close to proceedings, who did not wish to be named, told Wildcat that “everyone’s hoping the arbitration issue will just go away and they’ll just forget about it.”
However, a couple of details hint at an atmosphere of cold civility. “The last two TNK-BP board meetings have taken place over the phone, rather than face-to-face,” said the insider. “At the last one in September, the AAR directors didn’t even show up. I think a couple of them were on holiday in Brazil. They sent proxies in their place,” he added.
AAR refused to comment when contacted by Interfax.
Breathing space beckons for the odd couple, who apparently can’t stand the sight of each other – Wildcat understands there’s only one more board meeting scheduled for this year. “And if it goes to plan, that’s the last we’ll hear from them,” chuckled our source. CN