Exxon seeks OK to resume Russian oil venture

Reuters

Exxon has publicly disclosed licenses for other work in Russian Federation that required waivers.

Company officials also disclosed that they had urged Obama administration officials to make USA sanctions consistent with European Union sanctions, which gave greater latitude to European companies to continue taking part in some Russian projects.

Reports emerged Wednesday that Exxon is seeking a waiver from the Trump administration to collaborate with Russia's state oil company.

An Exxon spokesman said the company declined to comment on ongoing issues.

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Exxon purportedly asked the Treasury Department in recent months if it could drill alongside Rosneft in the Black Sea. European companies, particularly Eni, the Italian giant, could then pick up the work.

Notably, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is the former CEO of Exxon. Among other things, USA companies were prohibited from transferring advanced technology used to drill offshore and in shale formations. This proved to be problematic for both parties: Rosneft does not have the technological ability to drill in cold offshore conditions by itself, while Russian Federation was Exxon's second-biggest exploration area at the time. Part of the sanctions leveled on Russia include the prohibition of technology transfers in Russian energy projects in the Arctic, Siberia, and the Black Sea. Exxon reported in 2015 that its potential losses related to the Rosneft venture could run to $1 billion.

Exxon's ambitions could be complicated, however, by concern over what USA intelligence agencies have concluded were Russian cyberattacks to interfere with the US presidential election a year ago. Congress has also launched an investigation into whether there were ties between aides to Donald Trump and Russia's government during the presidential campaign and the political transition.

The newspaper said Exxon has been seeking permission to work with Rosneft in areas banned by US sanctions.

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