Gazprom nets Dewhurst to spearhead UK comms

Former Weber Shandwick UK chief executive Philip Dewhurst has left British Nuclear Fuels to join Gazprom.

As first revealed here on PRWeek.com before Christmas, Dew­hurst has left his group ­director of corporate affairs role at BNFL and joined Gazprom Marketing and Trading – the Russian gas ­giant’s UK operation – as head of PR.

His role is newly created and comes after a recruitment process that began almost six months ago (PRWeek, 29 June 2006). He reports to Gazprom Marketing and Trading MD Andrey Mikhalev.

Dewhurst said Gazprom – the world’s biggest extractor of natural gas – approached him ‘back in the summer’. Gazprom Marketing and Trading has around 100 UK staff and offices in Hampton Wick, near Kingston-upon-Thames in Surrey.

Dewhurst, who describes himself as an ‘issues specialist’, told PRWeek: ‘I love the energy sector, issues management, and so on. For me, this is the best in-house PR job you could have.’

He added: ‘Gazprom has a really young management team; the atmosphere there is like a 90s tech firm [in its enthusiasm].’

Dewhurst said part of his role would be to ‘dispel the negatives’ associated with the company, focusing instead on the 30 years of successful trading it has enjoyed in Europe.

He said no decision had yet been made on whether he would bring in agencies, seek to build an in-house comms team – or both.

Gazprom made its first foray into the UK market last June, buying Cheshire-based Pennine Natural Gas.

Dewhurst joined BNFL in 2001 (PRWeek, 16 March 2001) from WS. He has prev­iously worked at Railtrack and for the Chemical Industries Association.

During his time at BNFL, he worked with Bell Pottinger and, latterly, Finsbury and Weber Shandwick.

Dewhurst’s responsibilities at BNFL are now being handled by British Nuclear Group comms head Paul Vallance.

The Government is selling off BNFL piecemeal, which will see comms roles change accordingly.

Last February, Japan’s Toshiba confirmed it was buying BNFL’s US subsidiary Westinghouse. By the end of this year the company is expected to have been ­almost completely sold off.

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