Gazprom, Rosneft Call on Govt to Liberalize Offshore Legislation

Russian oil and gas majors Gazprom and Rosneft have called on the national government to permit the transfer of offshore field development licenses to their subsidiaries and to joint ventures with foreign partners. Granting such permission will allow Rosneft and Gazprom to share risks with foreign partners, the companies maintain.

The Russian majors initiated the request, according to Paul Zavalny, deputy chairman of the Duma Committee on Energy and president of the Russian Gas Society.

In addition to lodging the license transfer request, Gazprom will continue to support the existing monopoly that only allows state-owned companies to develop Russia's sea shelf, an official company spokesperson said.

Separately, sources close to ExxonMobil Russia told Rigzone foreign companies have long lobbied for license transfer authorization. Under Russian law, even local joint ventures of Rosneft and Gazprom with foreign partners have no right to own licenses for offshore fields; they can only operate them as service companies. Such restrictions prevent foreign companies from booking the fields' oil and gas reserves.

In 2012 the Russian government considered granting permission for private companies to operate on the shelf. That proposal sparked criticism from Gazprom and Rosneft, however, and was rejected.

The current push to allow offshore development license transfers has won support from the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources. Sergei Donskoy, Russia’s Minister of Natural Resources, has advanced a proposal to grant private – including foreign-owned –companies access to offshore fields that have not generated interest from state-owned companies. In addition, the ministry has called on the government to provide licenses for sea shelf development to joint ventures of public and private companies.

Gazprom's foreign partners operating on the national sea shelf include companies such as Shell and Total. In the case of Rosneft, partners include ExxonMobil, Eni and Statoil.


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