With the filing of the state corporation Rosneft, led by Igor Sechin, another foreign company may be engaged in oil production on Russian soil. This time we are talking about the scandalous Norwegian Equinor, to which Rosneft sold a stake in projects in Eastern Siberia for $ 550 million.
Why Sechin so easily distributes assets to foreigners is an open question. It is possible that its main goal is to launch an almost semi-mythical Vostok Oil project in Taimyr. So far, it exists only on paper, but it should have already brought Rosneft billions of rubles, because unexpected structures receive a share in future production, and Sechin himself expects to receive about 10 trillion rubles of funding for the project - an amount just cosmic.
Hardly anyone can resist such a "carrot", especially Igor Sechin, who will never let his own go. In the case of Equinor, this company has been working in the Russian Federation not for the first day, but since 2012, when, together with Rosneft, it received the right to develop the northern oil shelf.
But no matter how much money was spent on it, it did not become profitable in the face of falling oil prices and Rosneft's continental projects. Did Sechin know about this, or was the main thing to start a "necessary" company?
Norwegian "friends" from NATO
Now, according to the deal, Sechin has sold her almost half of the Krasgeonats company, which owns 12 licenses for exploration and production of oil in Eastern Siberia. Including the Severo-Danilovskoye oil and gas field, the production of which began this year. Why such generosity from the head of a Russian state corporation, who is so clever in managing state property?
More importantly, Equinor is 67% owned by the Norwegian government, so a NATO member state will get the rights to develop the fields. Is it possible that in this case, for the "patriot" Sechin, the issues of state security recede before the big money?
State status did not prevent Equinor from getting into a series of scandals. The company works closely not only with the Russian, but also with the American authorities - the main well-wishers of our country. It has been developing the largest shale formations Bakken and Marcellus / Utica since 2008. This is 300 thousand barrels of crude oil equivalent.
And so, in 2020, the company, for the sake of its own ideas of decency, decides to immediately reduce capital investments in American projects by 20% in order to neutralize the fall in prices for petroleum products due to the pandemic. Instead of the announced $ 10-11 billion, it will invest only $ 8.5 billion, and will also cut costs for exploration by $ 400 million, and operating costs by $ 700 million.
Equinor project for oil production on the Arctic shelf ends in complete failure
This can be characterized in different ways. For example, the phrase "only business, nothing personal." Given the "shrinking" plans, it is not clear how much taxes the American budget will receive less.
Something similar happened with Equinor's development of oil on Russia's northern Arctic shelf - a project that ended in nothing. Since 2012, billions have been pumped into it. What is the result? Only two wells drilled in 2016, the reserves of which were deemed commercially uninteresting. Now Sechin has come up with a new joint venture, which could then receive a stake in Vostok Oil. The question arises - will not the Russian government throw Equinor, having received assets for one investment, and given completely different ones?
If Equinor is sent to Vostok Oil in the future, this will not be the first such message. Earlier it became known that 10% in the project should be received by the Singaporean oil trader Trafigura.
According to rumors, the company could have helped Rosneft bypass Western sanctions for many years, for which Sechin was very grateful. So much so that I am ready to give 10% of the country's most important oil project, the estimated cost of which is about 10 trillion rubles. It turns out that 1 trillion of them will "go" to Trafigure, and even for the future (albeit only on paper) huge profits?
Many scandals are also associated with this company, which raise the question to whom and how Sechin can "distribute" state assets. According to the Prime edition, in 2018 the Venezuelan oil state corporation PDVSA, among other companies, accused Trafigura of corruption. Allegedly, a criminal case was even opened on these charges in Switzerland.
The essence of the charges could be reduced to the receipt of confidential market information in exchange for corruption benefits. What, then, has been the basis for the strong friendship between Rosneft and Trafigura over the past five years?
Another Trafigura scandal developed in Brazil. According to the author of historian19 on the LiveJournal platform, Trafigura and Vitol allegedly paid millions of dollars in bribes to employees of the Brazilian Petróleo Brasileiro SA in exchange for more favorable conditions for concluding trade contracts.
India has become another country that, at Sechin's suggestion, can enter Vostok Oil or other projects. Earlier, Rosneft offered a consortium of Indian state-owned companies, which owns 49.9% of the Vankor field, to contribute this asset to the Vostok Oil project in exchange for a minority stake in it. Kommersant wrote about this. That is, Sechin, in fact, offered to change the stake in the company in a project that does not yet exist in reality.
Not only foreigners, but also Russian companies are stirring Sechin on the subject of Vostok Oil. It became known last week that Rosneft decided to buy out the Payakhskoye field from Eduard Khudainatov's Neftegazholding. The payment can be both money and assets - the benefit is that both are state owned by Rosneft, because it is a state corporation.
The deal should help Khudainatov to pay off the accumulated debts, and Rosneft to complete the consolidation of the Vostok Oil fields. Thus, Sechin will help his former colleague (previously Khudainatov headed Rosneft and is considered Sechin's man), and will also get a reliable partner in the future, Vostok Oil, who will raise his hands in voting on the board of directors when it is beneficial to Igor Ivanovich ...
Smooth on paper
Again, this will happen if Vostok Oil turns out to be a real, not a virtual project. According to Novaya Gazeta, the first phase of the project with a capacity of 50 million tons per year should be completed only in 2024, but the discussion of the parameters, reminiscent of pouring from empty to empty, has been going on for two years. The second stage, which will increase production already to 100 million tons annually - approximately by 2030.
At the same time, even the basic parameters of the project were not known for a long time, from which it was impossible to calculate financial investments. As Znak wrote, as a result, the project will require about 10 trillion rubles - money that could completely solve the problem of dilapidated and dilapidated housing, build more than 60 thousand km. upscale roads.
If the Vostok Oil project may turn out to be completely failed, will it be impossible to return the exchanged assets?
Instead of a broad public discussion, Sechin is trying to include in the project more and more structures that may have their own corrupt interest in this. Rosneft itself is incurring new losses, trying to close the holes in the budget at the expense of the state.
In the first half of 2020, its net loss of Rosneft amounted to 113 billion rubles against a profit of 325 billion rubles a year earlier. Writes about this RBC. And if earlier Igor Ivanovich nodded at fluctuations in the oil market, then this year the nods have gone in his direction. After all, he was the main person from Russia in the discussion of the new OPEC + deal. As a result of those failed negotiations, we recall that oil prices collapsed all over the world.
What will happen next with Vostok Oil and the companies that may enter it is unknown. Maybe they will receive budget funding for the same parameters, and then suddenly revise their plans, as Equinor did in Russia. The very principle is outrageous when state assets can be exchanged for others in accordance with the wishes of one person, albeit a very powerful one. How much this person thinks about the state, and not his personal interests, is a debatable question.