Rumors that the co-owners of LUKOIL Vagit Alekperov and Leonid Fedun conceived to transfer assets out of Russia, have a new indirect proof. Last year, the oil company reduced its oil production by 8.6% compared to 2015, down to 91.992 million tons. Earlier, the president of the company actually announced the shutdown of nearly 200 oil wells, arguing this was just the policy of Russia and OPEC. Like, we agreed to reduce production.
However, before that Lukoil had made it clear to the Russian authorities that it wouldn't reduce production for free, and expected to receive a state compensation ... For example, late last year, the company askedthe Ministry of Energy to provide incentives for the export duty from the Pyahyakinskoye field.
Russian incentives and foreign assets
A little earlier the Ministry of Economic Development approved the extension of the preferential export duty for the Yuri Korchagin field, also developed by the company of Alekperov and Fedun. The most profitable for Lukoil are considered to be its Caspian projects. It is not difficult to guess that an important role in this was played by one of the highest tax incentives in Russia, which were "bargained" for the company by Alekperov: down rate of mineral extraction tax and zero export duty.
Meanwhile, their investment interests the owners of the oil company gradually transferred out of Russia. So, at the end of February this year it was announced that Lukoil intended to invest during the year about $1.5 billion in Iraqi oil field, West Qurna - 2. This information was confirmed by the president of Lukoil Alekperov.
Before the businessman confirmed that Lukoil, the largest shareholder of which he is (about 25%), was actively considering "foreign direction." "We've increased our presence in Belgium and the Netherlands, where there is an oil refinery. We have a strong presence in the Balkans and continue to strengthen our position there. We intend to intensify our activities in the territory of Turkey, because our plants are focused on this market," the businessman said. But, as the persons familiar with the situation say, Alekperov pays the greatest attention to the United States, as a country where in future he could move not only his billions, but also his business.
Commodity market players state that the owners of Lukoil learnt to manage the assets, under the jurisdiction of different countries. Experience first. In terms of professional taxation, it will be useful in the case of "exodus" from Russia. Andfor the Russian law enforcement agencies to reach the businessmen will be much more difficult if the business is registered, for example, in the British Virgin Islands, where "resides" the subsidiary company of Lukoil, Lukoil Overseas.
But the benefits, and the bulk of raw materials Alekperov and Fedun have been pumping from Russia, so the national legislation, at least formally, is to be complied with. First offshore Lukoil Overseas had an office in Moscow, from which, in fact, it managed everything, however, formally it was called a representative office. Then the activity of the company was moved to the United Arab Emirates. It is likely that such masters as the owners of Lukoil, would be able to competently and without attracting too much attention gradually "store" their assets abroad.
"Farewell, poor Russia ..."
Earlier the media have repeatedly tried to calculate how many owners with the "Russian registration" there are in Lukoil. It turned out something like: about 50% of the shares of "Lukoil" are owned by foreign investors, another one fifth is one way or another controlled by Alekperov, and around 10% belong to the vice-president Leonid Fedun. But a big part of the production of hydrocarbons still account for Russian deposits. About 88% of reserves and 83% of hydrocarbons. The company can already be called foreign, rather than national. But in the meantime, the owners of Lukoil still receive tax relief in Russia ...
Meanwhile, the top management of the oil company gradually moved to the United States. In particular, this year the oil company saw personnel changes. "Lukoil" is abandoned by Valery Subbotin, who served as the senior vice president of supply and sales. The top manager in the near future will be appointed to head the board of directors of the international trader of oil giant - company Litasco.
In certain circles, they say that the move of Mr. Subbotin to the United States for permanent residence is not far off. His family have been living outside Russia, a top manager himself has applied for US citizenship, and managed to get a green card. Experts do not exclude that soon most of Vagit Alekperov business with himself and his top managers will also be in the United States. The money of the company is rumored to be actively funneling abroad in recent years. For example, only in 2014, "Lukoil" could direct to offshore companies about $5 billion.
They steal from themselves?
Last month, the sentence came into force against a former employee of the subsidiary of "Lukoil" in the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug - "LUKOIL - Western Siberia". The giard Denis Krivorot allegedly let the members of the organized group near the company's pipeline, which resulted in the theft of oil "in a large amount." However, there is another version. Illegal pumping of "black gold" from the pipelines could easily be performed with the consent of management of "Lukoil". By the way, the company of Alekperov is in second place among the Russian players in the number of cases of leakage of oil, which will inevitably lead to environmental damage. According to the results of 2014, the company's responsible for 3114 oil leaks.
With environmentalists who are trying to protect the environment from oil dealers, the company deals simply by using the criminal prosecution. In the KhMAO there's a trial against the ecologist Mikhail Karateev, who was accused of stealing oil field equipment, owned by the company "LUKOIL-Western Siberia". Defence argues that the prosecution is a harsh response of the persons interested in stopping the activist's activities. Nevertheless, even official agencies recognize that "Lukoil" harms the ecology more than possible under the law. In February Prirodnadzor initiated administrative proceedings against the subsidiary of "Lukoil-Western Siberia" - CCI "Urajneftegaz".
Mr. Alekperov and Fedun pump out the "currency wealth" from the Russian soil, regularly receive all possible benefits, but prefer to pay taxes overseas. It is possible that the businessmen will finish their pumping plan before the Russian law enforcement agencies wake up.