The US will throw a blow on the Russian oil and gas industry sanctions

Washington threatens to blockade the "North Stream-2" and the oil industry of the Russian Federation.
Prepared by US senators, the bill on tightening anti-Russian sanctions jeopardizes the implementation of any foreign energy project of the Russian Federation - from export gas pipelines like "Nord Stream -2" to investments in small start-ups. In addition, the bill in the event of adoption will put an end to any future cooperation with Russian companies in oil production. Lawyers note blurry language that, in their opinion, can lead to the fact that investors will have to consult with Washington on virtually any cooperation with Russia in the fuel and energy sector.

The new draft law on anti-Russian sanctions ("The Act to Protect American Security from the Kremlin's Aggression of 2018", DASKAA), which Kommersant reported on August 8, if adopted, would create a threat to all new major Russian energy projects abroad and for new investments in the oil industry in the Russian Federation.

As it follows from the document, the US president should impose sanctions on "persons" who will invest in foreign "energy projects" that support Russian state-owned companies and "parastatal" Russian entities. " Sanctions will be applied to projects whose value exceeds (including estimated) $ 250 million. "Even if at the date of entry into force of the law the project cost is lower, but then becomes higher, investors may find violators - including those who invested a small amount, "- said partner of the law firm Quorus Evgeni Zhilin.

As sanctions in the bill, it was suggested to use a set of dozens of restrictions prescribed in CAATSA (the key law on sanctions against the RF). These include, for example, the arrest of payments against restricted individuals, their assets, bans on debt financing and the conclusion of contracts with sanctions holders, for the issuance of visas to managers of such companies, and so on.

Under the formal signs of energy projects, for example, the Gazprom project for the construction of the Nord Stream-2 pipeline (Nord Stream 2), which is co-financed by European Engie, OMV, Shell, Uniper and Wintershall (€ 9.5 billion). Recently, Uniper acknowledged that because of the pressure of US sanctions, there are risks in obtaining project financing, and in July, US Energy Secretary Rick Perry stated that Washington is still considering imposing sanctions against the participants of Nord Stream-2, although he sees this as " last option ". The companies did not respond to requests from Kommersant.

In this case, the concept of "energy project" in the bill is not disclosed, which makes it possible to interpret this extremely widely - from geological prospecting of hydrocarbons to Rosatom projects for the construction of nuclear power plants abroad. Such projects can be attributed to anything, including investment in the production of solar or lithium batteries, confirms the partner of Herbert Smith Freehills Alexei Panich. In his opinion, "the uncertainty is made deliberately, so that everyone is afraid and ask for clarification from the US authorities." But such treatment may entail a change in the wording of the law and the inclusion of new faces in the black list, he believes.

The bill also proposed to tighten sanctions against the Russian oil industry. If earlier sanctions concerned a ban on long-term financing of projects, offshore production and development of shale deposits in the Russian Federation, now they can be extended to any oil production. Prohibition is offered to provide goods, services and technologies, to provide financial support to Russian oil companies, if the "fair market value" of a contract or support is $ 1 million or $ 5 million within a year. This may affect, among other things, the supply of software to oil companies, and this is one of the most vulnerable segments (see "Kommersant" on February 8). One of the sources of Kommersant, close to the IT market, explained that the license costs no more than $ 1 million for the product, but many oil companies buy them "modules". In oil companies this is not commented.

Yevgeny Zhilin adds that the restrictions with a small amount "cover the possibility of participation even in the smallest fields and try to cut off oxygen for all new projects." In his opinion, the criterion for a fair market price was introduced because "schemes for understating the value of goods in the contract are already being used." In case of suspicion, US authorities will demand an independent assessment report, the lawyer explains.

Despite the radical formulation of the bill, Alexei Panich suggests that the US president will try to choose the least harmful sanctions, but when the situation changes, on the contrary, the most serious restrictions can be applied. "In any case, the consequences will be a reduction in the ability to receive financing in these areas and the need to raise funds either in Russia or from non-US individuals willing to exchange increased return on investment for the risk of US secondary sanctions," the lawyer explains.