It strains credulity to believe that Igor Sechin (who would be perfectly cast playing his namesake in a remake of Frankenstein!) did not know that the TNK-BP shareholders agreement required BP to undertake all Russian operations via TNK-BP:
Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, who this week saw the crowning achievement of his career as Russia’s energy tsar thwarted by rival businessmen, shows no sign of conceding defeat.
. . . .
“I wouldn’t say that anyone contributed to the deal’s collapse. It’s just when there is no full information, when Rosneft had no opportunity to become familiar with the (TNK-BP) corporate agreement, it’s hard to make a decision,” he added.
I have been trying to track down what was public about the shareholder agreement going back to when it was revised in 2008-2009, but it’s hard to troll through all the material that’s out there. I do have a distinct recollection that during the time of the pre-September, 2008 face-off between Dudley/BP and the AAR people (which, remember, featured raids by masked security personnel), there was mention that the shareholder agreement restricted BP’s operations in Russia. At the very least, somebody–many somebodies, actually–should have asked.
But even if the details were not public, are we really to believe that the shareholder agreement details were concealed from a Russian government headed by an ex-KGB/FSB agent, and a Russian oil company headed by someone with a similar pedigree? Really? Especially since per Wikileaks, the US government was apprised of the behind-the-scenes dealing involved in the renegotiation of the agreement? If the State Department had its sources, is it at all plausible that Putin, Sechin, et al, didn’t have theirs? Please.
I don’t know exactly what went on here. I am virtually metaphysically certain, however, that the public stories by Putin and Sechin are risible. There was–is–some game within the game within the game. I would wager that Sechin–and perhaps Putin–told BP that the shareholder agreement wouldn’t be a problem. Then it was. Why it was remains in the realm of conjecture. Was it Sechin playing Lucy-and-the-football in an attempt to extract more out of BP? Did the AAR oligarchs play a card that Sechin (and perhaps Putin) didn’t expect? (Perhaps a card involving the upcoming election campaign?) Again, I don’t know.
But I do know that Sechin does a very poor Gomer Pyle imitation: