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BP and Rosneft to make $700mn deal despite sanctions – FT

RT | June 15, 2015

Russian oil major Rosneft and BP are close to signing a $700 million deal for BP to acquire a 20 percent stake in the Taas-Yuriakh Siberian oilfield, reports the FT. The deal could be announced this week at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

The introduction of EU sanctions against Russia hasn’t scared off the largest European companies, working in the fuel and energy sector, according to the Financial Times.

Besides BP, Italy’s Eni and Norway’s Statoil have already received governmental approval to continue working on joint projects with Rosneft. Shell continues to work with Gazprom Neft over the Salym project in the Siberian Khanty-Mansiysk area and is seeking Dutch government approval for other joint ventures.

The news comes as the G7 claimed they are ready to extend sanctions last week. The announcement was also made just days prior to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, dubbed the ‘Russian Davos’.

The heads of BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Total will visit the event which starts on Thursday. America’s Boston Consulting and Ernst & Young are also expected to attend, which could be a sign Washington and Brussels want dialogue with Moscow.

As EU sanctions are not so diehard as American, European companies with pre-existing contracts have a possibility to even expand their activities in Russia and don’t want to miss the opportunity, says James Henderson, senior fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.

“European companies are finding ways and are certainly freer to do business than their US counterparts… US companies are going to be hugely disadvantaged as we go forward because EU sanctions are not retroactive and US ones are,” Henderson told the FT.

“We stay out of the politics… We have a lot of experience in Russia … our commitment is to remain,” BP CEO Bob Dudley told CNBC this month.

Statoil is planning to drill two wells with Rosneft at the onshore Siberian North Komsomolskoye field this summer, and two wells in the Okhotsk Sea on the edge of the Pacific in summer 2016.

Eni has not disclosed any plans, but the FT, referring to sources familiar with the situation, assume the Italians may continue work on a Black Sea license with Rosneft.

June 15, 2015 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Russia Iran oil-for-goods deal on – Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (RIA Novosti/Aleksey Nikolskyi)

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (RIA Novosti – Aleksey Nikolskyi)
RT | April 14, 2015

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, confirmed the oil-for-goods deal between Moscow and Tehran is “absolutely” a reality and has begun.

Russia has started supplying grain, equipment and construction materials to Iran in exchange for crude oil under the barter deal announced by Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Absolutely! Of course,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said when asked by reporters on Tuesday if the statement the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made on Monday was accurate, and the exchange had indeed started. “Focus on the statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” Peskov said.

On Monday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov made the details of the trading partnership public.

Moscow and Tehran have been hashing out the deal’s small print since early 2014. A big step was taken in August when Russia’s Energy Minister Aleksey Miller and his Indian counterpart Bijan Namdar Zanganeh signed a five-year memorandum

According to Energy Minister Alexander Novak, Russia hasn’t yet received any Iranian oil.

Much of Iran’s oil reserves – the world’s fourth largest – remain untapped. Western sanctions put the brakes on discovery and exploration in the oil and gas industries.

Moscow may buy up to 500,000 barrels of Iranian oil per day, which would help Iran bring the 20-30 million barrels of crude oil they have in storage to market.

Iran, the third largest Russian grain customer, will ship wheat into the country. Russian state-run power utility Inter RAO and Inter RAO Export, as well as Technopromexport would supply equipment and help construct power stations in Iran, Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak said previously.

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia is lifting the ban on the delivery of S-300 missile rocket systems to Iran. The Kremlin canceled a 2010 self-imposed ban, suggested by the US and allies, not to sell Iran the artillery.

In April, Iran reached a nuclear agreement with the P5+1 countries to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear arms as long as the West lifted sanctions, which have been in place for nearly 40 years. By June 2015, a final agreement is expected to be reached, which will lift sanctions, including the oil embargo against Iran. After sanctions are loosened, Iran’s oil minister thinks the country can increase shipments by one million barrels a day.

April 14, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | Leave a comment

Russia loses $140bn with sanctions and falling oil prices – Finance Minister

RT | November 24, 2014

Russia is losing around $40 billion a year due to Western sanctions, but they are not as critical to the economy as lower oil prices, which add $90-100 billion in losses, says Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov.

“We lose about $40 billion a year because of the political sanctions and around $90-100 billion a year due to the 30 percent reduction in oil prices,” RIA quotes Siluanov speaking Monday at the International Financial and Economic Forum.

Lower investment and foreign loans along with capital outflow, estimated at $130 billion this year, are the key components of the loss, Siluanov explained.

Siluanov believes the decline in oil prices has a more significant impact on the Russian economy than the international sanctions.

“If we talk about the consequences of geopolitics, of course, they are important for us,” he said. However, he added that “it is not as critical for the course, and even for the budget, as the prices of goods exported by us.”

Talking about the ruble’s depreciation, Siluanov said that fluctuating oil prices should serve as a principal indicator of the ruble’s exchange rate amid a period of high volatility.

“The price of oil has fallen by 30 percent since the beginning of the year. Incidentally, the ruble has weakened by the same 30 percent. When people ask me – listen, you’re the Minister of Finance, what’s the ruble rate going to be? It is impossible to answer because there are a lot of factors. I say, look at oil prices. The behavior of the ruble will depend on them,” said Siluanov.

The price of Brent crude, which is used to calculate the price for Russian Urals blend, has fallen by 30 percent to about $80 a barrel since the end of June; its lowest price for four years.

According to the International Energy Agency, the total supply of oil on the world market in October increased by 35 thousand barrels to 94.2 million (2.7 million barrels more than in October 2013). In the same period, the average daily volume of oil supplies by OPEC countries in the world market amounted to 30.6 million barrels.

OPEC countries are also adding to the oversupply as they’ve been exceeding their quota of 30 million barrels per day for the last six months.

According to IEA experts, the decline in oil demand from China, world’s second largest oil consumer, and rising oil production in the US will lead to a sharper decline in prices in early 2015.

On November 27, OPEC leaders will meet in Vienna to decide whether to shore up oil prices by cutting output.

November 24, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , , | 1 Comment

Sanctions against Russia ‘violate’ core principles of WTO – Putin

RT | September 18, 2014

President Vladimir Putin has said that sanctions against Russia directly violate World Trade Organization (WTO) principles, and that Russia will continue to defend its economy with protective measures.

The sanctions violate the main principles of equal access for all WTO members to economic activity and access to goods and services in the market, Putin said at a meeting with advisers in the Kremlin on Thursday.

“The limitations introduced against our country are nothing but a violation by some of our partners of the basic principles of the WTO,” the President said, adding that sanctions “undermine free enterprise competition.”

On September 12, the US and EU expanded sanctions against Russia aimed at hurting Russia’s main industry – oil. The US and EU have led sanctions against Russia, along with Japan, Australia, Switzerland, and others over Moscow’s alleged meddling in the Ukraine conflict.

The best way for Russia to counter these unfair advantages is to develop its domestic market, the President said.

“In response, we took protective measures, and I would like to stress that they are protective; they are not the result of our desire to punish any of our partners or influence their decision in any way.”

Russia introduced protective measures over food supplies on August 7 in response to Western sanctions. The Kremlin and White House sanctions tit-for-tat has been escalating since March, when Crimea voted to rejoin Russia.

The food ban is due to only last a year, but at today’s meeting the President said that Russia needs to focus on increasing its market competitiveness over the next eighteen months to two years.

One of Russia’s main competitive advantages is its huge domestic market, and it should be filled with more Russian-made products, Putin said.

The President said that Russia’s decision to join the WTO in 2012 was a difficult transition for the country, but that it raised economic standards.

At the meeting President Putin laid out a list of economic priorities for the Russian state. At the top are developing the infrastructure, boosting lending, continuing to develop the agricultural and technology sectors, and increasing overall competition.

Russia joined the WTO in 2012 after nearly two decades of back and forth negotiations on the conditions for entry.

READ MORE: Russia to appeal against US, EU sanctions to WTO

September 18, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

If new EU sanctions hit energy sector, Russia may close airspace – Medvedev

RT | September 8, 2014

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has warned Russia may shut its air corridors to Western airlines if the next round of European sanctions hit Russian energy companies.

siberia_flights“If there are sanctions related to the energy sector, or further restrictions on Russia’s financial sector, we will have to respond asymmetrically,” Medvedev said in an interview with the Vedomosti newspaper, published on Monday.

EU ministers will gather on Monday to discuss new sanctions against Russia and are rumored to be introduced on Tuesday. The prime minister promised a strong retaliation if the West slaps Russia with more sanctions.

“We could impose transport restrictions,” Medvedev said, adding, “We believe we have friendly relations with our partners, and foreign airlines of friendly countries are permitted to fly over Russia. However, we’ll have to respond to any restrictions imposed on us,” the prime minister said.

After sanctions hit Aeroflot’s low-cost subsidiary Dobrolet in late July, Medvedev discussed with ministers the possibility of limiting, of even completely blocking, European flights to Asia that overfly Russia.

“If Western carriers have to bypass our airspace, this could drive many struggling airlines into bankruptcy. This is not the way to go. We just hope our partners realize this at some point,” he told Vedomosti.

Flying over Russian airspace saves Western airlines headed to Asia at least 4 hours of flight time, which adds up to about $30,000 per flight.

Lufthansa said it could potentially lose more than €1 billion in three months if it does not use Russian airspace. Lufthansa, along with British Airways and Air France, are the largest EU airlines. US airlines currently don’t operate over Siberian airspace.

Many low-cost airlines have decided not to launch new routes to Russia, with the threat of sanctions possibly a factor. Last week Ryanair ditched plans to establish a Dublin-St. Petersburg route, and easyJet, another European-based airline, dropped its plans to develop a London-St. Petersburg service.

Medvedev didn’t specify whether the blocked airspace would also apply to cargo and delivery companies, such as UPS and FedEx.

EU sanctions, which will reportedly be introduced on Tuesday, will ban Russia’s three main oil companies- Rosneft, Gazprom Neft, and Transneft – from raising long-term (longer than 30 days) debt on European capital markets, according to the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times.

Rosneft – Russia’s largest oil producer – was added to the US sanctions list on July 16 and was put on the EU list on July 29. Russia’s largest independent natural gas producer, Novatek, also was added to the blacklist in July, along with a ban on the export of hi-tech oil equipment needed in Arctic, deep sea, and shale extraction projects to Russia.
Gazprom Neft is the oil subsidiary of Russian gas giant Gazprom.

Transneft is Russia’s state-owned oil pipeline company that exports all of Rosneft’s crude oil, and 56 percent of Russia’s crude exports.

Sanctions likely won’t apply to privately-owned Russian oil groups such as Lukoil and Surgutneftegaz.

The EU will also reportedly follow America’s lead on banning the sale of weaponry from Russian companies that also supply the Russian military, the WSJ reported Sunday. On July 16, the US blacklisted several defense sector companies include Almaz-Antey Corporation, the Kalashnikov Concern and Instrument Design Bureau, as well as companies such as Izhmash, Basalt, and Uralvagonzavod.

“Sanctions are always a double-edged sword. Ultimately they end up backfiring and end up hurting those who are first to impose restrictions,” Medvedev said.

The EU has agreed on the new sanctions but said they could be delayed or even cancelled if Russia shows willingness to resolve the conflict in Ukraine.

On Friday Kiev introduced a ceasefire to calm fighting between the Ukrainian army and anti-government forces, but fighting and shelling continued in the country’s east.

September 8, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Hague court had no authority in Yukos case, ruling politicized – Moscow

RT | July 28, 2014

The Hague’s arbitration court was not legally empowered to view the case of Yukos Oil Company v. Russia, and the court’s “one-sided” ruling disregards previous Strasbourg court decisions on the issue, the Russian Finance Ministry said in a statement.

Viewing the case, filed by shareholders of former Russian oil giant Yukos against the Russian government, was not in the jurisdiction of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague, as Russia has not ratified the Energy Charter Treaty, the ministry said on Monday.

The statement, following the court’s sensational Monday ruling that ordered Russia to pay $50 billion in damages, also provided a detailed list of issues, which, according to the ministry, make the decision “opportunistic” and “politically biased.”

First of all, The Hague court ignored the previous decisions of the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which in September 2011 ruled that the Russian authorities had carried out “legitimate” and not politically motivated actions against Yukos “to counter the company’s tax evasion,” the ministry noted. The ruling contradicted Yukos shareholders’ claims that the company’s assets were purposefully expropriated by Moscow.

The Russian Finance Ministry meanwhile blasted the arbitration ruling as based on “one-sided investigation with one-sided application of evidence.”

The Hague court in effect reviewed the decisions of Russian courts on Yukos “as if the arbitration court was an additional authority for appealing the court orders,” the ministry said. It has made “theoretical speculations not supported by evidence” over the motivation of the Russian authorities’ actions in the case of Yukos, it added.

The international body failed to note that the people who controlled Yukos, including the oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky released from jail in December, were apparently aware of financial machinations aimed at a mass-scale tax evasion in favor of the company, the ministry stressed. The tax evasion scheme, which involved the creation of numerous bogus companies, was not properly considered in the court.

The arbitration court went as far as to judge “what Russian tax legislation should be like” as opposed to what it required in reality, the ministry said. The court refused to pass several controversial issues on taxes for review by Russian, UK or Cyprus competent authorities despite relying on the Energy Charter Treaty that outlines a need for such reviews, it added.

While in effect saying The Hague court decision was not legally binding for Moscow, the ministry added that “the Russian Federation will challenge the arbitration court’s decisions in the courts of the Netherlands.”

According to the ministry, “the arbitration court failed to approach the adjudication with common sense, which is required from the judges in such situations,” which resulted in an nonobjective and biased decision.

“Such an approach undermines the authority of the Arbitration court and the Energy Charter Treaty, which are being applied in increasingly politicized manner and, as in this case, have become the objects of abuse on behalf of domestic investors trying to evade taxes,” the ministry said.

ECHR is expected to announce a fresh decision on Yukos’ multi-billion dollar claim against Russia on Thursday, as the defunct company’s shareholders have filed a separate application with the Strasbourg court, Reuters reported.

Background: ‘Mega-arbitration’: Court orders Russia to pay $50bn in Yukos case

July 28, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Russia declassifies vast extent of oil, gas reserves

RT | July 12, 2013

According to declassified data Russia holds 17 billion tons of oil and 48 billion cubic meters of gas. Moscow believes revealing the extent of the vast reserves will lead to a surge of investment in the extraction and production of hydrocarbons.

The country’s recoverable oil reserves in the C1 category (proven reserves) totals 17.8 billion tons; category C2 (preliminary estimated reserves) is 10.2 billion tons, according to data collected on January 1, 2012.

Meanwhile, gas reserves were equally bountiful at 48.8 trillion cubic meters C1 category; gas stores of the C2 category is estimated at 19.6 trillion cubic meters.

The Minister of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation Sergey Donskoy said the resource potential for these kinds of mineral resources remains one of the most significant in the world. “I am convinced that the opening of this data will give a powerful impetus to investment in reproduction and production of hydrocarbons,” he said. He also added that Russia’s potential for the mineral resources is one of the most significant in the world.

Russia’s available hydrocarbon potential will be able to provide the nation’s growing economy for 30 years, according to expert estimates put out by the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and the Federal State Commission on Mineral Reserves.

Meanwhile, increased exploration of mineral resources consistently exceed the level of production, the minister said, noting that last year 49 oil fields were discovered.

Last week, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a government decree that removed the lid of secrecy on oil reserve data.

Earlier, President Putin, explained the necessary level of cooperation that exists between the domestic fuel and energy sector and foreign investors, called the former level of secrecy “an obvious anachronism.”

Putin also called on the development and approval of a new classification of Russian oil and gas reserves as close as possible to international standards.

Before the release of the official data Russia was placed second in the world by gas reserves after Iran, with 32.9 trillion cubic meters, and eighth by crude oil reserves, after Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and UAE, with 11.8 trillion cubic meters of oil.

July 13, 2013 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , , , , , | Leave a comment