The West is promising “massive” sanctions on Moscow in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday that European sanctions would target Russia’s military, economy and energy, and Germany’s decision this week to halt certification of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline built by Russia’s Gazprom shows that the vast oil and gas sector isn’t off limits.
But any action that affects Russia’s energy interests will highlight the role played by some of the West’s biggest players, which have generated billions of dollars for the Russian state and are among the country’s leading foreign investors.
Here’s how ExxonMobil (XOM), BP (BP) and Shell (RDSA) are helping keep Russia’s oil-dependent economy afloat.
The American oil giant has more than 1,000 employees in Russia, and has been in the country for over 25 years.
Its subsidiary, Exxon Neftegas Limited (ENL), has a 30% stake in Sakhalin-1 — a vast oil and natural gas project located off Sakhalin Island in the Russian Far East. It has operated the project since 1995 on behalf of a consortium that includes Japanese and Indian partners, as well as two affiliates of Russia’s largest oil company, Rosneft.
ENL employs more than 700 Russian nationals at five major sites and production locations. ExxonMobil also has offices in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Since its startup, Sakhalin-1 has generated more than $18.3 billion in payments to Russian federal and regional governments.
Russia isn’t as important to ExxonMobil as it used to be, however.
ExxonMobil previously partnered with Rosneft to conduct exploration and research activities in Russia but withdrew from those joint ventures after sanctions imposed by the United States and Europe following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
It valued its Russian assets at $4 billion in its annual financial report released Wednesday. That represented less than 2% of its fossil fuel assets. The word “Russia” was not mentioned in its recent earnings call with analysts.
ExxonMobil did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On its website, BP proclaims itself “one of the biggest foreign investors in Russia.”
That investment largely takes the form of a strategic partnership with Rosneft, in which it owns a 19.75% stake. The British company gets to nominate two directors to the Rosneft board — BP CEO Bernard Looney and former CEO Bob Dudley. The Russian government is Rosneft’s biggest shareholder.
Through three joint ventures with Rosneft, BP owns a 20% stake in the Taas-Yuryakh oil project in eastern Siberia. BP completed the deal to acquire that stake in 2015, and production from the project was expected to reach 100,000 barrels per day last year.
BP also owns 49% of Yermak Neftegaz — formed in 2016 — which is conducting onshore exploration over a combined area of about 260,000 square kilometers in the West Siberian and Yenisey-Khatanga basins.
The third joint venture covers the Kharampur project, in which BP has a 49% interest. Kharampur is a mature oil field but BP and Rosneft are planning to develop the project to pump gas. BP says there is potential to “double overall field production.”
BP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The UK-based company’s biggest engagement in Russia is Sakhalin-2, which it describes as one of the world’s largest integrated oil and gas projects.
Shell has a 27.5% stake in the venture, which is controlled by Gazprom. Other investors include Mitsui (MITSY) and Mitsubishi of Japan.
The project includes three offshore platforms, an onshore processing facility, 300 kilometers (186 miles) of offshore pipelines and 1,600 kilometers (994 miles) of onshore pipelines, an oil export terminal and a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant.
Shell says Sakhalin-2 supplies about 4% of the world’s current LNG market. Japan, South Korea and China are the main customers for oil and LNG exports.
A Shell spokesperson said it was monitoring the situation closely, but declined to comment on the company’s investments in Russia.
— Chris Liakos and Chris Isidore contributed reporting.