Now obviously I'm supposed to know about this stuff (or else shut up), and I don't have a good record on BP-in-Russia. In 2003, BP got involved in the TNK-BP joint venture. Around 6 years ago they were considering an even bigger play in Russia at a time when others were piling in and others still (Shell and yes, even the mighty Exxon) who had already got in were getting a kicking in the usual Russian manner. On this occasion BP (wisely, in my view at the time) held back. In due course, 2008, and TNK-BP gets a kicking of its own, with Bob Dudley being sent packing in the boot of a car or some such skullduggery.
But of course those endless reserves of oil and gas are forever beckoning, and Russia's need for inward investment (and technology-transfer) is likewise never-ending. In due course (early 2011) BP made another bold play, this time linked to Rosneft (a company now more in favour than Gazprom). At the time I gathered, wink wink nudge nudge, that however implausible, they knew what they were doing. It rapidly seemed I was wrong however (CU always said this) and the kicking recommenced with even greater ferocity. How many beatings can a company, already on the back foot after Deepwater Horizon, take ?
But no, they are hanging on in there with another round of Big Plans. What prize is so tantalisingly close that they can justify the effort ?
Perhaps it's as simple as this: the unchanging fundamentals of Russia's vast natural resources and its extensive needs - $1 trillion, we are told, and who's to doubt it ? If BP are wrong about this they are in very good company: the Big Oil herd stampedes resolutely eastwards, irrespective of massive periodic setbacks. Putin spent time in London with Cameron during the Olympics, and now more Russians are coming to town to display their wares.
On the other hand, I can't quite shake off the idea that BP is being badly advised ... this one will run and run.