BP’s Iraq boss moves to Russia

BP’s head of Iraq operations is taking up the supermajor’s top job in Russia as the present incumbent steps aside.

Michael Townshend, a 32-year veteran of the UK oil giant, will become senior vice president of Russia BP Group from 1 March.

Townshend, currently regional president for the company in Iraq since 2009, is replacing David Peattie who will step aside at the end of February.

Townshend, who will report directly to BP chief executive Bob Dudley, has worked for the oil stalwart in Azerbaijan, Nigeria, the Netherlands, Indonesia, US, Australia and the Middle East.

He managed the construction of the 1800-kilometre Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan project bringing Azerbaijan’s oil from the Caspian to the Mediterranean and BP’s onshore business in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey including the South Caucasus gas pipeline.

He moved to the Middle East in 2007 to set up BP’s tight gas appraisal project in Oman, before becoming BP president of Middle East and Pakistan.

He was brought into the Iraq job after BP’s successful bid for development of the giant Rumaila field. The project has, however, been hit with problems, mainly associated with bottlenecking, which is forcing a downward revision of production targets.

BP has not said who will replace Townshend in Iraq.

Townshend already has the inside track on the company’s dealings in Russia having become a non-executive director of joint venture TNK-BP in 2011, replacing former BP chief executive Tony Hayward. BP has already agreed to sell its 50% stake in the venture to Rosneft.

Heavily involved in that deal was Peattie who is leaving BP after 34 years, but who will remain on the board of TNK-BP until the sale is finalised.

BP has made a series of senior appointments this week. Production boss Bob Fryar is taking over the safety seat from Mark Bly who is retiring while Alaska operations chief John Minge is taking over as chairman and president of BP America from Lamar McKay who has moved on to lead the British supermajor’s upstream division.

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