Exxon, BP bosses set for rare Russia showing with Putin

ExxonMobil was forced to withdraw from Arctic projects with Rosneft after sanctions in 2014.

By Vladimir Soldatkin, Reuters - October 1, 2019

MOSCOW — The bosses of ExxonMobil and BP are set to take part in an energy conference presided by Russian President Vladimir Putin in a rare trip to Moscow despite a wider political standoff between Russia and the West.

ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods might meet Putin in Moscow on Wednesday on the sidelines of the conference, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Woods and BP boss Robert Dudley are listed among the panelists of this week’s conference, which is also expected to be attended by officials from Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

Peskov said that Putin and Woods, if their meeting happens, would discuss ‘potential cooperation areas’ in a ‘short meeting’.

BP declined to comment on Dudley’s plans.

Western oil executives frequently visited Russia before relations with Moscow soured in 2014 following the annexation of Crimea by Russia and subsequent insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

This was followed by allegations of Moscow meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections, which the Kremlin has denied, and wider sanctions against Russian individuals and corporates.

As the result of the sanctions, ExxonMobil had to withdraw from joint energy projects with Kremlin-controlled Rosneft in the Arctic.

Woods attended a Russian conference in St. Petersburg in 2017, while Dudley, former head of Anglo-Russian oil producer TNK-BP, which was sold to Rosneft in 2013, met Putin in March in the Kremlin at a gathering with UK businesses.

BP holds a 19.75 percent stake in Rosneft.