• 10 Jul 2007 at 10:47 AM
  • BP

Lord Browne Is Not Getting Any

lordebrownREX0105_228x366.jpgRemember Lord Browne, the BP executive who parted ways with the oil company back in May because he got creative with the truth regarding his personal life in court, forfeiting an estimated £15m ($30 m) and, more importantly*, if we’re going to split hairs, his spot as a director at Goldman Sachs? He’s now had an addition £1.5m ($3 m) owed to him frozen by the oil wooly-haired mammoth, until a court case is resolved.
At issue is what a few shareholders believe was mismanagement (“draconian,” yes draconian now, cost cuts prior to a pipeline spill, etc) in Alaska. They are seeking unspecified damages from 39 current and former BP executives and directors. To be clear, this suspension of pay is only to facilitate the funds being turned over to the injured party (who believe it would be “difficult” to recover the money from the Lord) when and if the shareholders are successful, and has nothing to do with the gay witch hunt from earlier this year.
BP freezes payments to Browne [The Guardian]
*it’s never about the money.

  • 22 Jun 2007 at 9:14 AM
  • BP

BP forced to take the money in a Putin-hosted game of Deal or No Deal

BP “sold” its share of a Siberian gas field to Gazprom this morning for the better part of a billion dollars, at the polite behest of Vlad Putin. BP teamed up with three Russian oligarchs to form TNK-BP, which controlled the majority stake in the Kovykta gas field. Russia has been trying to oust TNK-BP from Kovykta, which holds as much natural gas as Canada (ie – Russia is big), because the joint venture wasn’t meeting production targets. With Putinprom into the mix, all licensing and regulatory issues are resolved, according to the official KremlinKomment.
BP put $600mm into the project so far and insists that the sale was exactly how the company drew it up. In fact, BP was just warming up the gas field, awaiting Gazprom’s forced takeover. BP’s awkward compliance, from the Wall Street Journal:

BP officials have stressed that Kovykta has no value in its current state, with the prospects for export routes uncertain and little infrastructure near the field. They repeatedly have said they wanted Gazprom to have majority control of the project because it has a monopoly on exporting Russian gas and officials had hoped to sell output to markets in China.

TNK-BP still remains a significant part of BP, which poured $8bn into the venture in 2003. The partnership accounts for 1/5th of BP’s global reserves, 1/4th of its production and 1/10th of its global profit.
BP Sells Stake in Russia Gas Project [Wall Street Journal]

  • 11 May 2007 at 11:59 AM
  • BP

BP: British On-the-dole-again

lordebrownREX0105_228x366.jpgLord Browne is out as a director of Goldman Sachs. The former BP chief, who’d been on the board since 1999, resigned yesterday, perhaps uncomfortable with the public revelations of his lying to a high court over how he met his boyfriend Jeff Chevalier, and the company funds his lavished on him. While Goldman typically touts the Victorian line when it comes to its employees, Lloyd Blankfein offered some kind words toward Browne (though it was unclear if his comments were drafted after he’d been assured the little “PR problem” would be going away). Said Blankfein:

Lord Browne has made an enormous contribution to Goldman Sachs and our culture of teamwork, excellence and client service. He has approached every issue with extraordinary business acumen and an absolute commitment to the firm’s success. His ability to identify and deal with the important issues affecting our business and our people has helped guide this institution since we became a public company.

And in an open letter in last week’s Financial Times, 67 senior execs from various companies, including Lazard’s Wasserstein and Reuters’s Glocer showed their support for Browne, or “got behind him,” as Dealbook noted. (We kid…we kid the DealBookies… but not really since they did say that. Beat us to the punch, scamps).
Meanwhile, new BP chief exec Tony Hayward is already off to a great start, despite coming under fire for two accidents at the Prudhoe Bay oilfield in Alaska, that happened on his watch (before the promotion). The findings will be puflished in Congress next week as part of an investigation into a “massive oil spill and production cutbacks” at Prudhoe Bay, which sounds quite similar to the findings in BP’s Texas City refinery blast, which The Guardian notes “scarred the image of the company.”
BP said it will not comment on the reports until they’re published next week, and after politicians raise their questions. Nipping things in the bud is really not their style.
Lord Browne resigns from Goldman Sachs [The Guardian]
Open Letter: Lord Browne – an immense contribution to business and arts [Financial Times]
Former BP Chief Quits Goldman’s Board [DealBook]

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BP’s $35mm overcompensation expense

bp.jpg What is your first reaction when driving up to a gas station?
a.) poke your head out the window, open your mouth, and wait for the gas nozzle to turn into a shower, raining down golden helios (little flowery sun-symbol-like things)
b.) wait for someone to fly down with a toilet (you read that correctly) and giant sandwich
c.) nothing, because you are letting your toddler and his three friends fill up the tank before running some errands, and your toddler knows to only use gas pumps that whistle catchy jingles
The answer is all of the above, if you’re at a BP gas station.
Not since Britney Spears sans flip flops have gas stations been this infectious. Fueled by the tune (“Say Hey,” by Message of the Blues), BP’s new $35mm US ad campaign (designed by Ogilvy & Mather) goes to great lengths to convince your children that PowerPuff Girl type creatures will dance for you (and maybe tap you off if you’re lucky) at its gas stations. BP isn’t a stop, it’s a destination. Let’s get it done.
You will quickly forget about refinery explosions and ex-CEO liaisons when you see the little men dancing near your engine cylinders. Is BP’s child-focused, dolphin-friendly effort a bit much? From Slate:

Finally, BP hopes to cement itself as the most “green” of the massive oil companies. To this end, the ad shows little windmills in the background. Also, BP service stations (there are more than 11,000 in the United States alone) have switched from plastic to paper bags at their convenience stores, and hand out trading cards with environmentally sensitive tips for kids (for instance: Use both sides of the paper when you color).

Watch the commercials, and plant a tree next time you fill up your tank, after the jump…
Baby, You Can Fuel My Car – [Slate]

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  • 04 May 2007 at 2:04 PM
  • BP

Hayward’s BP

bp.pngEarlier this week, we established what the new BP will look like under the Hayward Regime. Less spa treatments. More tequila. Less “earth friendly”-type business. Now let’s take a look at what’s on Hayward’s to-do list for the next couple of months.
1. Keeping casualties on the BP premises at a minimum. Or, keeping news of deaths on the company’s watch at a minimum. The company has “suffered a series of accidents” in the last several years, and the critics have claimed they’re due to safety controls on par with airport security pre 9/11 and excessive cost cutting. In March 2005, an explosion at a Texas City refinery killed 15 and injured a few hundred more. So that looks kind of bad. As does the fact that it all could’ve been avoided had the higher-ups at the refinery heeded “serious warning signals.”
2. Keeping oil spills at a minimum. Last year there was one of those in Alaska, shutting down the nation’s biggest field, revealing “widespread corrosion problems in the pipeline network that BP operates” and “a Justice Department inquiry that is continuing.”

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