James Moore: BP could be scapegoat for US in Ukraine wrangle
Outlook BP is another company potentially facing trouble from the US, even though it is in many ways as American as Mom's apple pie. It's run by an American in the form of chief executive Bob Dudley and has far more invested over there than over here. Even its ownership is more American than British.
Last year the company paid $6.8bn (£4bn) in dividends, but American shareholders have long been keener on share buybacks. Right on cue, BP has just finished an $8bn programme of them and will now fund more.
None of this matters. To American eyes the company is as British as a hosepipe ban in the middle of a rainy summer. It's enough for it that its headquarters and listing are here. All this creates a problem for the oil major given the interests it has in Russia. These could leave BP playing the role of piggy in the middle amid the tussle between that country and the US over Ukraine.
So far BP is maintaining its commitment to its investment in Russian oil company Rosneft, not least because it's hard to see it getting anything like full value for its 20 per cent stake were it to walk away.
But it ultimately may have little choice. The president of Rosneft, Igor Sechin, has been placed on America's list of Specially Designated Nationals. In other words he's under sanctions. That raises questions about Mr Dudley, as a US national, sitting alongside him at Rosneft board meetings. And it could get worse than that.
America has precious little ability to influence the situation in Ukraine. So if the heat rises it may need to find a scapegoat to divert attention from its impotence. BP looks ideally positioned to play that role.
It might find it has to pick sides, however unpalatable that is from a financial perspective.
- 1 'Fire at every person you see': Israeli soldiers reveal they were ordered to shoot to kill in Gaza – even if the targets may have been civilians
- 2 Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
- 3 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
- 4 Garland shooting: Isis claims attack on Prophet Mohamed cartoon contest in Texas as its first action on US soil
- 5 Met Gala 2015: Beyoncé manages to out-skimp Rihanna, Miley and Kim Kardashian combined with near-naked ensemble
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Who should I vote for? The Independent quiz matches best political party for undecided voters ahead of the general election
Met Gala 2015: Beyoncé manages to out-skimp Rihanna, Miley and Kim Kardashian combined with near-naked ensemble
Syria's 'circle of hell': Aleppo residents describe children without heads, streets filled with blood and injuries never before witnessed by surgeons
General Election 2015: Photographic history of Bullingdon Club tracked down - including new picture of David Cameron in his finery
In defence of liberal democracy
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Can you speak German,...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity f...
£215 per day: Ashdown Group: Junior Project Manager (website, web application ...
£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software Engineer / Softw...