For a year we observed disputes between Rosneft and the Ministry of Finance about tax breaks for one of Russia's largest oil fields, Samotlor. And now, when the parties came to an agreement, the whole story looks still illogical. Here are just a few simple questions, the answers to which should clarify the situation.
Why did the topic of benefits arise? Because during the privatization of a 19.5% stake in Rosneft, the Russian authorities gave such an obligation to foreign investors. How exactly this commitment is fixed, and it is not known, but Rosneft insisted on reducing the tax rate on oil production by half. And this led to a budget loss of 70 billion rubles. in a year, that is for ten years the state lost all that it saved. At the same time, Rosneft publicly assured that the development of highly watered Samotlor is unprofitable and benefits are needed to maintain and increase production. The Ministry of Finance did not agree with this all the time.
Why then are the benefits still granted? Because it was the president's assignment. The Ministry of Finance's complaints about budget losses were partly heard: the volume of benefits dropped to 35 billion rubles. per year, and Rosneft increased the dividends to 50% of the profits by the president's decision. In other words, the company will return most of the benefits from tax benefits back to the budget.
Can other companies with similar fields receive such benefits? According to the Ministry of Finance, no. The head of the tax department of the ministry, Alexei Sazanov, said that other players are not state-owned companies and "did not incur additional obligations to increase dividends." I am sure that Mr. Sazanov did not in any way mean what he said, because otherwise private companies will only have to sell off assets, and the government will have to complete the already far-gone process of nationalization of the industry.
Is there an economic meaning in the reduced benefits that doubles, that is, exactly how do they stimulate the growth of production in Samotlor? It is still unclear: the parties do not disclose the targets for extraction and the prerequisites that they were guided by. Obviously, in order for the benefits to be "paid off" for the budget, production, while maintaining current oil prices, should grow by about a third - an extremely ambitious goal for Samotlor, which has been developed for 40 years.
The only party that definitely wins is the new shareholders of Rosneft, which managed to change: QIA and Glencore of 19.5% of the shares 14% give CEFC. Is it really necessary to promise tax privileges for half of the sum to attract shareholders for 700 billion rubles. Or did Rosneft, using privatization as an excuse to receive benefits, create a contradictory and dangerous precedent? Apparently, other explanations are possible, but hardly at least one is capable of withstanding logic or publicity.