President Donald Trump rejected the request of ExxonMobil to allow it, despite the sanctions, to resume drilling in the Black Sea together with Rosneft. This was announced Friday night by the Minister of Finance Stephen Mnuchin. "After consulting with President Donald Trump, the Treasury decided that it would not issue permits to US companies, including Exxon, to conduct drilling operations banned by the current sanctions against Russia," Munchina said in a statement.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that Exxon first applied to the US Treasury Department for the enforcement of sanctions in 2015 and renewed its request in March. Joint work with Rosneft in the Black Sea was frozen in 2014, when the Barack Obama administration imposed sanctions against the chief executive officer of Rosneft Igor Sechin, and then against the company in response to Russia's actions in Ukraine. American companies were also forbidden to cooperate with Russia in the field of deepwater and shale mining, to work in the Arctic, and also to supply equipment for such activities.
The decision of the US administration means that Exxon, apparently, will not be able to start drilling in the Black Sea before the end of the year, when its agreement with Rosneft will expire. Earlier the company reported that it has the opportunity to conduct exploration of some Arctic deposits in Russia until 2023, if the sanctions are lifted.
The news about Exxon's request aroused sharp criticism of congressmen - both Democrats and Republicans. Many of them are in favor of tightening sanctions in response to the Kremlin's alleged interference in the elections. "The exception that allows doing business with Russian companies may be in the interest of ExxonMobil, but it clearly does not meet the interests of US national security," said Republican senator and member of the International Relations Committee Marco Rubio on Thursday.
"Opening up new opportunities for profitable business to Putin and his cronies is the last thing the United States should do," said Democratic Senator Eliot Angel, who holds a high position in the Foreign Relations Committee.
Congressmen also drew attention to a potential conflict of interest, given that the current US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, came to this post as Exxon's CEO. Representatives of the State Department this week said that Tillerson will not participate for two years in resolving issues affecting the interests of the company in which he previously worked.
"Given the well-documented and disturbing activities of Russia in different countries, it is depressing that ExxonMobil continues to pursue its narrow economic benefits to the detriment of our national interests," said Sen. Democrat Ben Cardin, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. "Money from transactions the company wants to participate in will fall into the pockets of Russian oligarchs and the Russian Ministry of Finance and will be guaranteed to be used against America, our interests and allies."