Exxon Seeks Waiver of US Sanctions to Resume Russian Oil Work

Exxon has not been granted a waiver to bypass USA sanctions and partner with a Russian oil company to drill in the Baltic Sea.

"We understand the statement today by Secretary Mnuchin in consultation with President Trump", Exxon spokesman Alan Jeffers said.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Exxon had in recent months applied for a Treasury Department waiver to drill with Rosneft.

The deepening relationship was put on hold, however, after the U.S., European Union and other Western countries imposed sanctions on Russian Federation in 2014 over its role in the crisis in Ukraine. Those sanctions prohibit USA businesses from providing goods, services, or technology to five Russian energy companies, including Rosneft, the country's largest oil company - freezing the partnership with Exxon. "Our 2015 application for a license under the provisions outlined in the US sanctions was made to enable our company to meet its contractual obligations under a joint venture agreement in Russian Federation, where competitor companies are authorized to undertake such work under European sanctions". The company wasn't arguing that it would be serving the public good by working with Rosneft, only that it would make major money if the sanctions were lifted.

But since becoming the USA secretary of state under Trump, Tillerson has backed the sanctions.

The Associated Press reported that ExxonMobil, which is based in Irving, Texas, filed documents in 2015 and 2016 disclosing that it had received three licenses from the Treasury Department, through its Office of Foreign Assets Control, authorizing the company to conduct "limited administrative actions" with Rosneft.

The US government won't be granting Exxon Mobil a waiver from Russian sanctions, Politico reports.

She said the economics of coal "are really challenged" and that it would prove more important than any government position.

Exxon originally applied for a waiver to gain access to the Black Sea in July 2015 but its application didn't get approved, the person said.

Rosneft had two-thirds stake in the venture, while Exxon owned a third but was to shoulder the initial exploration costs.

At a 2014 Exxon annual meeting, Tillerson as CEO said, "We do not support sanctions, generally, because we don't find them to be effective unless they are very well implemented comprehensively, and that's a very hard thing to do". Nevertheless, according to the head of the Russian company Igor Sechin, in 2019 Rosneft and ExxonMobil plan to continue drilling in the Kara Sea. Congress is also investigating possible ties between aides to then-candidate Donald Trump and Russian officials.

Exxon's critics urged the department to block more waivers, which they feared would give new momentum to drilling in the environmentally sensitive Russian Arctic.

  • Zachary Reyes