Russian oil major ExxonMobil is seeking permission from the US Treasury Department to resume drilling around the Black Sea with Russian state oil giant Rosneft, AP reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.
Formerly run by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, ExxonMobil’s request is being reviewed by the Trump Administration, the news agency reported, adding that the drilling venture was blocked when the US imposed sanctions on Russia in 2014, following its annexation of Crimea. Exxon applied to the Treasury Department for a waiver from the sanctions in 2015, during the Obama administration, according to the person. Exxon has publicly disclosed licenses for other work in Russia that required waivers.
Earlier, the Wall Street Journal cited “people familiar with the matter,” who remain anonymous that ExxonMobil has applied for a waiver from US sanctions against Russia to keep a claim to Black Sea oil exploration rights negotiated in 2012. It is unclear whether Exxon filed the claim with the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control before President Donald Trump appointed Tillerson secretary of state, the WSJ said.
AP quoted a State Department spokesman as saying Tillerson has recused himself from any matters involving Exxon for two years and is not involved with any decision involving the company before any government agency.
In 2012, Tillerson negotiated a deal with Russia’s oil and gas giant Rosneft worth as much as $500 billion in joint investments, to explore deposits in the Black Sea, the Arctic and Russia’s Far East.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Exxon is asking for a sanctions waiver because its exploration rights in the Black Sea will soon expire if the company does not act.