U.S. rejects Exxon Mobil's bid for waiver on Russian Federation sanctions

Remigio Civitarese
Aprile 27, 2017

On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that ExxonMobil had filed its waiver request during the administration of former President Barack Obama when the company's CEO was Rex Tillerson, who is now Trump's secretary of state.

The Trump administration will not issue a waiver allowing oil giant ExxonMobil to avoid US sanctions and resume drilling operations in Russian Federation.

The oil company has asked for permission to drill with state-run PAO Rosneft in places under sanctions.

The Irving, Texas-based company has disclosed receiving three waivers from the sanctions during the Obama administration for limited work with Rosneft. ExxonMobil officials also said they'd exhorted members of the Obama administration to align US sanctions with European sanctions which allowed some flexibility for European companies to continue working on Russian projects.

However, the Street.com reported that Trump administration Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin has said that USA companies should obey the sanction orders until they are lifted. According to media reports, the USA oil giant is looking to reinstate its Black Sea oil exploration rights, which were established in 2012 by then-CEO Rex Tillerson. Leading Democrats and Republicans have said the Trump White House should be increasing sanctions on Russian Federation for its alleged effort to interfere in last year's USA presidential election, rather than loosening them. After his election, analysts believed that sanctions imposed on Russian Federation over Ukraine could be lifted, which possibly would have had major implications for energy. However, he said the company was hamstrung by the USA government's position.

There are powerful reasons why Exxon would want to get back into business with Rosneft: Their agreement to form a joint venture, signed in 2011, allowed Exxon to conduct offshore exploration in the Black Sea and the Kara Sea in Siberia.

Exxon had to stop a joint venture with Russia's Rosneft, headed by Igor Sechin (right, with Vladimir Putin). Congress is also investigating possible ties between aides to then-candidate Donald Trump and Russian officials. Tillerson, for his part, has recused himself from making decisions affecting the any of Exxon's business dealings, including the government's ultimate decision to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Progress came to a standstill in 2014, when the US and European Union resorted to sanctions to punish Russian Federation for annexing the Crimean peninsula and backing Ukrainian separatists.

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