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Big oil companies cut business ties with Russia

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

Some major oil companies are responding to the Russian invasion of Ukraine by cutting business ties with Moscow. As NPR's Camila Domonoske reports, it's a significant sign of how the business world is moving to isolate Russia.

CAMILA DOMONOSKE, BYLINE: This happened really quickly. BP's partnership with a Russian oil giant was huge. And just two weeks ago, BP CEO Bernard Looney said there were no plans to leave.

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BERNARD LOONEY: Quite frankly, there is no impact on our ongoing operations in Russia, and we are sticking with the business of business.

DOMONOSKE: The business of business is over. The U.S. and Europe are hitting Russia with unprecedented sanctions. And now BP announced it would be ending its partnership with the Russians. Norway's Equinor and the British energy giant Shell followed suit. Susannah Streeter is an analyst for Hargreaves Lansdown, a British stock trading platform.

SUSANNAH STREETER: These are really huge announcements as far as the oil and gas world are concerned.

DOMONOSKE: These moves will cost the companies money. For BP, this partnership is worth some $25 billion, but the timing is pretty good. Oil companies have been raking in tons of money. And as the war in Ukraine sends prices even higher, Streeter expects BP will still be profitable. These announcements are not the end of the story. There's a big question - how will these companies actually follow through on these plans? If they want to sell off their stakes, who's going to buy them?

STREETER: With Russia's stock market closed and with sanctions imposed make it very difficult to do business - any kind of financial transaction with Russia.

DOMONOSKE: And meanwhile, keep an eye out for mounting pressure on French energy giant Total or American company ExxonMobil. They also have deep ties to the Russian oil industry and haven't indicated if they will change course. Camila Domonoske, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.