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  Wednesday, November 20, 2019
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An arbitration court in West Siberia's Tyumen Region said on Wednesday
An arbitration court in West Siberia's Tyumen Region said on Wednesday that the secondment of foreign technical staff to the oil company TNK-BP by British major BP was illegal.

The ruling came after BP announced the withdrawal from Russia of all 148 of the company's foreign technical staff working for the joint venture, citing little progress in litigation in the Tyumen court. The move is the latest development in the long-running shareholder conflict in TNK-BP, Russia's third largest crude producer.

The lawsuit was filed in May by Russian financial company Tetlis, a TNK-BP shareholder, which complained of high outlays on the foreign experts. Kommersant daily said on Wednesday, citing Russian shareholders, that they cost the company $1 million per year each.

Tetlis managers earlier worked at Alfa Group, part of the AAR consortium of Russian billionaire shareholders with 50% in TNK-BP, according to Kommersant. Alfa Group denied its role in the lawsuit, the paper said.

The Russian partners have accused BP of limiting TNK-BP's international expansion and employing too many foreign staffers from BP.

A higher court in Omsk lifted in mid-July the Tyumen court's injunction banning the firm from using 148 foreign specialists from BP.

BP said in a statement explaining its decision to recall foreign staff on Tuesday: "Even though the Omsk court recently lifted the injunction ... the litigation in the Tyumen court continues and has made little progress, with no indication that this or other attempts to interfere with BP's ability to deliver technical support will be resolved in the immediate future."

On Monday, Russia's migration service granted a work permit to TNK-BP's American CEO Robert Dudley, whose dismissal has been sought by the four Russian shareholders. However, the executive still needs to have his visa renewed to be able to work in Russia.


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