Rosneft faces foreign managers’ departures as sanctions push out EU citizens

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Five foreign vice-presidents of Russia’s Rosneft have resigned because of European Union sanctions forbidding European citizens or Russians living in the EU to work at the Kremlin oil major, six sources familiar with the matter said.

They said the five – Didier Casimiro, Eric Liron, Zeljko Runje, Avril Conroy and Otabek Karimov – left Rosneft  days ahead of fresh EU sanctions over the Russian assault on Ukraine that came into effect on May 15, the sources said.

All five joined the state-owned Russian company in 2012 or early 2013, according to the Rosneft website.

Rosneft declined to comment. Casimiro did not respond to a message. Liron, Runje, Conroy and Karimov could not be reached.

Rosneft’s boss Igor Sechin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has long said he wants Rosneft to rival the likes of Exxon Mobil Corp by hiring foreign managers and using the best of western technology and expertise.

The departure of executives and tightening of sanctions are widely expected by Western oil executives with Russian expertise and Russian oil insiders to slow the growth at Rosneft and make it harder to develop new deposits including the flagship Vostok Oil project in East Siberia, one of the biggest developments since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Belgian-born Casimiro, a key figure for Russian oil and products trading and supply, joined Rosneft after the company bought BP’s joint venture in Russia, TNK-BP.

French-born Liron and Irish-born Conroy also joined Rosneft from TNK-BP in 2013. They were responsible for in-house services and retail business development, respectively.

Uzbekistan-born Karimov was working closely with Didier as vice-president for trading and logistics.

Croatia-born Runje joined Rosneft from Russia’s Exxon Mobil branch in 2012 as a vice-president for oil and gas and offshore business development.

Casimiro and Runje were sanctioned as individuals by the United Kingdom at the end of March. 

The European Parliament urged that former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder be blacklisted if he does not quit the board. Schroeder eventually resigned though he said his ties to Putin are essential to communication with a man the world cannot afford to ignore.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Howard Goller)

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