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BP Replaces Head of Operations in Azerbaijan

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BAKU, Azerbaijan - British oil major BP PLC said Friday it has replaced its regional president for its operations in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, in a move that follows recent criticism of a BP-led consortium by Azeri President Ilham Aliyev for declines in oil output.

Gordon Birrell, the company's current head of safety and operational risk, will replace Rashid Javanshir on Nov. 15, BP said in a statement that didn't give a reason for the staffing change.

Javanshir, who had run BP's operations in the three countries since 2009, will return to London to work as a senior vice president for strategy and integration.

"We are bringing Rashid to London to a position which will allow us to utilize his extensive experience beyond the AGT region and in support of the wider BP," the company said.

The move comes little more than a week after BP and the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic, or SOCAR, reached an agreement on stabilizing production in the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli field in the Caspian Sea that is expected to produce between 33-34 million tons of oil per year through 2024.

Work at the field, which BP says Javanshir sanctioned, had been plagued with technical problems since 2008 when a serious gas leak was detected. In October, the Azeri president said that problems at the field had resulted in $8 billion in lost revenue.

"It is our firm intention to continue our success in the region through even closer cooperation with SOCAR, the government and our partners. To achieve this, we will continue to focus on safety, maximization of production and intensification of performance," BP said.

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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