David Prosser: BP's shareholders are entitled to be furious too

Outlook Bob Dudley and Carl-Henric Svanberg will no doubt cope with running the gauntlet of protesters at BP's annual general meeting today. Mr Dudley, a career oil man, knows this sort of ordeal comes with the territory, even if last year's Gulf of Mexico spill has ramped up the outrage factor, while Mr Svanberg got plenty of practice coping with demonstrations during the height of that scandal last year. Leaving aside the demonstrators' concerns, however, both men deserve a rough ride from their shareholders too.

Mr Svanberg, BP's chairman, ought to regard himself as fortunate still to be in a job. The Deepwater Horizon disaster cost Tony Hayward, the then-chief executive, his post, but could easily have done for Mr Svanberg too. Practically invisible during the early part of the crisis, BP's chairman got involved with the battle only to get the company back on an even keel once Mr Hayward's position had become untenable.

Mr Dudley, meanwhile, wastouted as a safe pair of hands when he succeeded Mr Hayward. It has not turned out that way: the deal with Rosneft, fêted as a breakthrough piece of strategic vision when Mr Dudley unveiled it three months ago, is now mired in a bitter international legal dispute that is set to prove expensive for BP.

Should Mr Dudley have anticipated the way things would turn sour? Well, there was certainly no one in a better position to do so. Having served as chief executive of TNK-BP, before falling out dramatically with the Russian partners in the venture and fleeing the country, Mr Dudley knows better than anyone how poisonous this relationship can turn. He must also have been privy to BP's agreement with TNK-BP that they would talk to each other first should either party want to do more in Russia. It did not require the sharpest legal mind to see that BP's deal with Rosneft might at least have the potential to breach that contract.

BP's senior executives, in other words, have not covered themselves in glory since the last time the company got together for its annual general meeting.

The figures speak for themselves. When shareholders gathered at the ExCeL Conference Centre this time last year, BP shares were trading at a smidgen under 650p. Today, the price is almost a third lower. And do not forget the crucial dividend income, worth several billion pounds, on which investors have missed out.

Environmental protesters are not the only people with cause to vent some spleen today.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Neil Pavier: Management Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ACA/ACCA/ACMA qua...

Laura Norton: Project Accountant

£50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine