President Vladimir Putin held a surprise meeting with BP's leadership on expanding its presence in the Russian market despite the litany of recent problems endured by the British energy giant in the country, the Kremlin said Wednesday.
Putin met with BP chief executive Robert Dudley and board chairman Carl Henric Svanberg late on Tuesday, the Kremlin said in a statement on its website.
The meeting, which appeared to have taken place at Putin's summer residence in Sochi, also included the chief executive of Russia's number one oil firm Rosneft and trusted Putin ally Igor Sechin.
"The meeting discussed questions linked to the continuation and expansion of the presence of BP on the Russian market and also perspectives of working with Russian companies," it said, giving no further details.
BP has endured bitter disappointments in Russia in recent years, most notably when a 2011 tie-up with Rosneft that would have seen a cross holding and joint exploration of the Arctic shelf collapsed amid mutual acrimony.
Instead, the historic Arctic venture went to ExxonMobil.
Rosneft and BP are also now in talks over the Russian firm buying BP's stake in Russian joint venture TNK-BP, long seen as one of the crown jewels of the company but which has had a turbulent corporate history.
A Siberian court has also ordered the British group to pay out $3.1 billion in damages over the failure of Arctic oil exploration tie-up with Rosneft.