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TNK-BP staff may leave Moscow soon

  |   July 1, 2008 at 7:52 PM
MOSCOW, July 1 (UPI) -- Foreign workers employed at the Moscow branch of the jointly owned TNK-BP gas firm were told Tuesday to prepare to leave the country.

Visas for the foreign staff at the vertically owned TNK-BP, a merger of the oil and gas assets of British Petroleum and the Russia industrial firms Access/Renova Group and Alfa Group, expire at the end of July. To continue working in Russia, the staff need work permits or special permission from Moscow, which most observers consider highly unlikely, The Financial Times reported.

"I hope that the visa and work permit issues can be resolved satisfactorily in due course, although there is presently no clear indication how, at what level and by when such resolution may occur. What is clear is that we have now run out of time to remedy this situation by the end of July -- or by the earlier expiry dates of some of your visas," TNK-BP President Robert Dudley wrote in an e-mail message to his staff.

Dudley said the Moscow staff could be forced out of the country if the matter is not resolved. The staff migration concerns all of the staff, including Dudley and his senior executives.

He advised the staff to "prepare to depart Russia to your home base before the expiry of your current visa and await further advice from the company."

Russian officials had complained there were too many foreign workers at the Moscow offices. Analysts see the move as a covert attempt by the Kremlin to insert the Russian energy giant, Gazprom, into the consortium.

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