Exxon seeks OK to resume Russian oil venture

Apr 20, 2017, 09:07

But Tillerson and company officials did note that Exxon Mobil had received a waiver to complete drilling an exploration well in Russia's Arctic waters.

Texas-based Exxon, the world's largest publicly traded oil producer, wound down drilling in Russia's Arctic in 2014 after those sanctions were imposed.

Exxon Mobil, the company once ran by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, is seeking a waiver from USA sanctions on Russia, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The Wall Street Journal, which first reported on Exxon's waiver request, said it remains unclear if the company applied for the status before or after Tillerson's confirmation.

The State Department is one of the agencies that helps Treasury decide whether it will grant a sanctions waiver.

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The Treasury Department, which would handle Exxon's application to drill around the Black Sea, did not respond to a request for comment. European companies, particularly Eni, the Italian giant, could then pick up the work. Tillerson has said that he would recuse himself from Russia-related matters for two years as Secretary of State.

The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control can issue waivers to enable companies to dodge sanctions, but the matter is likely to be scrutinized in Congress and other corridors in Washington, D.C., because it comes at a time of deep distrust between the United States and the Kremlin. The head of Exxon's Russian partner, Rosneft, was personally blacklisted. 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.

Relations between Russian Federation and the U.S. President Donald Trump have dimmed in recent times.

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

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