Moscow wants foreign oil firms to continue working in Russia: energy minister

Moscow (Platts)--16May2014/921 am EDT/1321 GMT


Russia is ready to provide all the conditions for foreign companies to continue work in the country despite increasing concern over possible new sanctions that the US and the European Union could impose against Russia, energy minister Alexander Novak said Friday.

He declined to comment on a Russian media report that any new US sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine could force ExxonMobil to quit the Sakhalin 1 project, in which it has a 30% stake, in Russia's Far East.

The US and other Western countries have threatened new sanctions, including measures that could target energy and banking, against Russia if upcoming elections in Ukraine are disrupted.

"We have not received any information that ExxonMobil would like to withdraw from the project," Novak told reporters as the two-day meeting of the International Energy Forum closed in Moscow.

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"I can't comment whether or not this information received from [media reports] reflects the reality. It needs to be checked," he said.

But Novak said his contact with international companies working in Russia, including those with major shares in the oil and gas sector, suggested that they would prefer to remain in the country.

"Our contacts have indicated that the companies are interested in continuing investing in Russia and continuing to work with Russian companies, both in Russia and abroad," he said.

"I even know that some companies are calling for their governments to stop talking about sanctions," he added.

"Economical interest must prevail and from our side we are ready to establish conditions for companies to continue work, invest, and cooperate with our companies," Novak said.

--Nadia Rodova, nadia.rodova@platts.com
--Edited by Margaret McQuaile, margaret.mcquaile@platts.com

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