The largest judicial claims for 89 billion rubles, which Rosneft put forward to its partners-production sharing agreements (PSA) for the Sakhalin-1 project, may be a means of pressure on foreigners in negotiations about possible losses of oil, lawyers say. Disputes between oilmen about the flow of hydrocarbons from one site to another because of the complex geology of the seams are not rare and in the world practice they are most often settled without a trial - within the framework of negotiations on the basis of refined calculations.
The Arbitration Court of the Sakhalin Region disclosed in the filing of court decisions details of the claim filed on July 13 by Rosneft to the shareholders of the consortium of the Sakhalin-1 PSA project. The amount of the claim is 89 billion rubles. The defendants are the operator Exxon Neftegaz (30% of the project, owned by ExxonMobil), the structures of Rosneft itself, Sakhalinmorneftegaz-shelf and RN-Astra (20% in total), Indian ONGC (20% ) and the Japanese Sodeco (30%). It follows from the court ruling that, according to Rosneft, from July 2015 to May 31 of this year, shareholders of Sakhalin-1 "were unjustly enriched" at the expense of the Russian state company. The court asked Rosneft to provide a copy of the agreement on the preparation of the products of the northern tip of the Chayvo deposit dated September 18, 2014, "which is referred to in paragraph 9 of the legally binding preliminary agreement to the balancing agreement in connection with the flows." The first meeting is scheduled for September 10.
It is about the flow of hydrocarbons between parts of the Chayvo field. The bulk of it belongs to the Sakhalin-1 consortium, but the northern dome - the so-called Northern Chayvo (reserves - 15 million tons of oil and 13 billion cubic meters of gas) - went directly to Rosneft in 2011.
Production there began in 2014 using the infrastructure of Sakhalin-1, but in 2017 fell sharply - 1.7 times compared to 2016, up to 1.4 million tons. Exxon was also interested in investing in Northern Chayvo, but in the end, Rosneft decided to develop it on its own. Exxon completely denies the claims of Rosneft, the state company does not comment on the situation.
The claim of Rosneft to the shareholders of Sakhalin-1 is not the first major financial claims related to this PSA project. In 2015, Exxon already filed a request to the Stockholm Arbitration to collect from the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation $ 600 million for overpayment of profit tax, but in 2017 the parties signed an amicable agreement (the terms are not disclosed).
Disputes over flows between companies with neighboring sites are common practice, says a Kommersant source familiar with the situation, they are resolved, as a rule, in negotiations. Before approval of project documentation in state bodies, the subsoil user always agrees with its neighbors, Rosneft did not raise any public claims, another source of Kommersant asserts. He suggested that Rosneft could record the pressure drop in the wells of the northern end of Chayvo, but it could have happened for various reasons, including due to inefficient development of the field.
Director of the consulting center "Gekon" Mikhail Grigoriev believes that it is obvious that we are talking about the layers of the 17th, 19th and 20th Nutovsky Chayvo suite. "When passing the border of the license area through a trap, parts of which are being developed with varying intensity, the flow is inevitable," the expert says. "It must be displayed in the state balance of oil reserves in the column" transfer from balance sheet to balance sheet ". According to Mr. Grigoriev, the solution is to create a single reservoir hydrodynamic model and coordinate the development projects with the parties. This task should be solved at the site of the central commission for the coordination of technical projects for the development of Rosnedra fields, he believes. The Ministry of Natural Resources declined to comment, the Ministry of Energy did not respond to a request from Kommersant.
Situations where economic entities operating in neighboring areas indicate that the permissible levels of hydrocarbon extraction are exceeded are not uncommon, but they are almost always resolved in a pre-trial order, the managing partner of the Criminal Code "Law and Business" Alexander Pakhomov confirms. It is not difficult to determine the volumes of oil taken by a specific participant, as the obligations for data exchange are usually fixed even before production begins, the lawyer points out. "The only case of the transition of such a conflict to the courtroom that I know is the dispute between LUKOIL and Kazakhstan's PKKR over the Kumkol field," Mr. Pakhomov recalls. "The conflict erupted after Lukoil filed charges against PKKR in pumping oil from the field for $ 193.6 million with the use of technologies that are inadmissible by agreement ".
In Mr. Pakhomov's opinion, even in Sakhalin-1, filing a claim could be a measure of pressure on members of the consortium. He believes that direct confrontation is unprofitable for either side, and the likelihood of an out-of-court settlement of the conflict is high. Partner of the law firm "Stream" Farid Babayev believes that the prospects of the claim largely depend on the expected geological and technological expertise, the fact that Rosneft's structures participate in the consortium can simplify the process of collecting evidence by the plaintiff. In support of the claim, it is necessary to provide the court with an arithmetical calculation of claims, which would be confirmed not only by the fact of oil flow, but also by its volume, the lawyer notes.