The representatives of the Republican and Democratic parties oppose giving Exxon Mobil the right to resume drilling operations on the Black Sea shelf in the framework of its joint venture with Rosneft. The senators Marco Rubio and John McCain (Republicans) and Bob Menendez (Democrat), as well as the Congressman Eliot Engel have publicly spoken out against this decision. Exxon Mobil appealed to the US Treasury with a request to lift restrictions on drilling operations in Russia. The company refers to the fact that, under the terms of the agreement, it should start drilling at the Black Sea site before the end of the year. Without carrying out these works and finding oil, the joint venture will not be able to obtain a license to develop the field.
Exxon also argues its position with the fact that its European rivals Eni and Statoil continue to implement oil and gas projects in Russia. The US sectoral sanctions, which were introduced in 2014, prohibit the transfer of advanced technology to Russia, including those related to drilling on the shelf, including the Arctic.
The request raised eyebrows because the deal between Exxon and Rosneft was struck in 2011 while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was CEO of the Texas-based oil corporation. Tillerson was critical of the sanctions before he became Secretary of State, and as CEO had a close relationship with his Rosneft counterpart, Igor Sechin.
In 2011, Rosneft and Exxon Mobil signed an agreement on strategic cooperation in Russia, the United States and third countries. The agreement provides for the exploration and development of the three license areas of Rosneft in the Kara Sea and the Tuapse license area in the Black Sea. Due to US sanctions, Exxon was forced to withdraw its activities in Russia, with the exception of the Sakhalin-1 project. Rosneft stated that it is ready to independently continue its work in the Arctic.
More about the case:
ExxonMobil appealed to US Treasury Department to remove restrictions on shelf drilling in Russia [20/04]