Incoming BP head Robert Dudley is expected to travel to Russia next week for the first time since fleeing the country in 2008, signaling a thaw between BP and its Russian partner TNK-BP.

Dudley is the former chief executive of TNK-BP and will travel to Moscow with outgoing BP chief Tony Hayward.

The Financial Times
reports their discussions with Russian counterparts will likely include the sale of Venezuelan assets from BP to TNK-BP, to help meet the cost of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Dudley was compelled to leave Russia in 2008 in a dispute over control of TNK-BP.  He officially replaces Tony Hayward October 1.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.