Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Friday that establishes a new operator for the Exxon Mobil Corp-led Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project in Russia’s Far East.
Putin’s move affecting Exxon’s largest investment in Russia mimics a strategy he used to seize control of other energy properties in the country.
The decree gives the Russian government authority to decide whether foreign shareholders can retain stakes in the project.
Exxon holds a 30% operator stake in Sakhalin-1, with Russian company Rosneft (ROSN.MM), India’s ONGC Videsh (ONVI.NS) and Japan’s SODECO as partners.
Oil production at the Sakhalin-1 project fell to just 10,000 barrels per day (bpd) in July from 220,000 bpd before Russia invaded Ukraine.
Exxon has been trying to exit its Russia operations and transfer its role in Sakhalin-1 to a partner since March, after international sanctions imposed on Moscow.
According to Reuters Exxon declined to comment on Friday’s decree.
Japan’s SODECO was not immediately available to comment, but an official of the industry ministry, which owns a 50% stake in the firm, said it was gathering information and talking with partners. Japan has stopped buying crude from Russia since June. read more
Friday’s decree said the Russian government was establishing a Russian company, managed by Rosneft subsidiary Sakhalinmorneftegaz-shelf, that will own investors’ rights in Sakhalin-1.
Foreign partners will have one month after the new company is created to ask the Russian government for shares in the new entity, the decree said.