MOSCOW Tony Hayward is poised to move to a new job as a non-executive board member with few direct responsibilities at BP PLCs Russia venture, TNK-BP.
He would not even need to spend much time in Russia, though his contacts in the Russian government and with the Russian shareholders would serve him well.
When Hayward steps down as BPs chief executive on Oct. 1, the British company said it would recommend him for the board of the Moscow-based firm it owns 50-50 with a group of Russian oligarchs.
Hayward is no stranger to the venture, having served on its board from its creation in 2003 until 2007, when he was appointed BPs chief executive.
TNK-BP accounts for a quarter of BPs output, but its future was thrown into doubt two years ago amid a bitter conflict between BPs managers and the Russian shareholders.
Robert Dudley, who will succeed Hayward as CEO, was the head of TNK-BP before being forced out of the country when Russian shareholders refused to renew his work permit. Seeking to put the spat behind them, the two sides agreed to introduce three independent directors to the board.
Each side now has four representatives. BPs include Lord George Robertson, the former NATO chief and British defense secretary, and BPs head of exploration and production.
The Russian oligarchs insist they hold no grudge against Dudley, with whom they differed on matters of strategy, and TNK-BP executive director German Khan said Tuesday he had congratulated Dudley on the new job.
Russian shareholders welcomed the planned appointment of Hayward, who fell victim to circumstances after the devastating Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Khan said.
He is a qualified professional and has good leadership potential, Khan said to the state RIA Novosti news agency.
Most of TNK-BPs 200 oil fields are situated far from open water in the Siberian tundra, although the company is looking to produce oil offshore in the Caspian Sea. The Russian government never has raised concerns about the safety of TNK-BPs operations.
TNK-BP, Russias third-largest producer, reported its second-quarter results on Tuesday, saying its net profit dropped 8 percent, but the company remains on track to boost production, which has been on a steady rise for nearly three years.
Analysts said Hayward would have much to contribute to the board.
His familiarity with the various players and legal and political background of the Russian oil industry is very helpful, said Ron Smith, London-based head of Europe, Middle East and Africa research at brokerage Chevreux. The transition will be easier for him than for anybody else that BP could assign to it.
When Hayward served on the companys board in 2003-07, he would travel to Moscow at least four times a year, and forged excellent work contacts with partners in TNK-BP and representatives of the Russian government, BPs Moscow-based spokesman Vladimir Buyanov said.
Haywards appointment is not expected to change TNK-BPs strategy to increase Russian output, expand overseas and go public in the next few years.
If were talking about expansion outside Russia, a man like Hayward will be an asset with nearly 30 years of experience with BP, said Alexander Burgansky, co-head of equity research at Renaissance Capital.