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Medvedev Questions Future of BP, Post-Spill

President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday questioned the future of BP, saying its spill in the Gulf of Mexico could ultimately ruin the oil major.

"No one knows what will happen to the Gulf of Mexico, with the flora and fauna of the sea. There is even an uncertainty as to what will happen to the firm," Medvedev told a meeting on environmental regulation.

"The nature of environmental responsibility is such that it can destroy anyone," he said.

BP, which traces its history back to 1909, is the fourth-largest company in the world, with revenue of $246.1 billion in 2009. One-quarter of its global output comes from TNK-BP, a 50-50 joint venture with Russian partners.

Speaking in Finland, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences over the BP spill, saying nothing like that could happen with the Nord Stream pipeline.

"The Gulf of Mexico is, of course, a long way away, but we're enduring [the accident] alongside those who are now facing this catastrophe, which is taking on a global nature,” Putin said, Interfax reported.

BP has had a bumpy experience in Russia since establishing its 50-50 joint venture, TNK-BP, in 2003. The venture has suffered from a conflict between BP and its billionaire Russia-connected partners, whom BP accused of using administrative pressure and judicial connections to win a dispute over strategy and management control in 2008.

On Thursday, BP was undertaking its latest attempt, dubbed the top kill, to seal a gushing well deep underwater in the Gulf of Mexico. The spill created by a deadly blast aboard a rig, which was leased by BP, is shaping up to be the worst in U.S. history.

Medvedev also said Russia needed to "put an end to the environmental nihilism" and introduce stronger punishments for infractions, Interfax reported. Medvedev has made the fight against "legal nihilism" — his term for the country's flawed judicial system? — a cornerstone of his presidency.

(Reuters, MT)

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