On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. In response, numerous international oil companies (IOCs) involved in Russia announced their decision to exit the country. Other IOCs have chosen to stay, at least for now. The European Union is currently drafting a ban on Russian oil that could further alter the situation. In this piece, Dr. Shangyou Nie, a Non-Resident Fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy, takes stock of what these companies have announced as the crisis surrounding the war in Ukraine evolves.
Which IOCs have decided to exit Russia?
Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine forced many IOCs to assess whether to continue their activities in Russia. Some of these companies have decided to exit the country:
- bp will withdraw its 19.75 percent shareholding from Rosneft. This will result in the loss of 1.1 million barrels per day (b/d) of production, or one-third of bp’s global total, leading to an estimated $25 billion book value write-off.
- Equinor will exit from its Russian joint ventures (JV) primarily with Rosneft, including four oil fields/projects with about 25,000 b/d of equity production and approximately $1.2 billion in value.
- Shell will exit all three JVs with Gazprom, including 27.5 percent equity in Sakhalin 2 LNG and 50 percent in the Salym and Gydan fields. It will also withdraw from the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project. Shell announced that its total impairment from Russia will be $4-5 billion.
- ExxonMobil will exit from its 30 percent holding and operatorship in Sakhalin 1 with Rosneft. Its asset value in Russia is estimated at $4 billion.
- Eni will sell its 50 percent shareholding in the Blue Stream gas pipeline. It already suspended its JV with Rosneft for exploration in the Arctic in 2014, following Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
For the downstream, some European companies (e.g., bp, Equinor, Shell, and Total) announced that they will stop buying Russian crude at the spot market and purchasing Russian crude or products in the future, while still fulfilling prior contractual commitments. Shell will also shut its service stations as well as aviation fuel and lubricants operations in Russia.
Which IOCs have decided to stay thus far?
A smaller group of IOCs have decided to continue their investment in Russia, at least for now, with certain caveats:
- The German company Wintershall Dea remains involved in existing oil and gas projects (Urengoyskoye, Yuzhno-Russkoye, and Achimov), but it said that it 1) will not invest in any new projects in Russia, and 2) will write off about €1 billion for its financing of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, a decision similarly made by all European partners including Shell, Uniper, ENGIE, and OMV.
- The Austrian company OMV has initiated a strategic review of its investments in the Yuzhno Rosskoye field, including potential exit. OMV has ended all negotiations with Gazprom to acquire a new field.
- The French company TotalEnergies has decided to continue its involvement in Russia, including 19.4 percent shareholding in Novatek (the leading independent Russian company for Yamal LNG and Arctic LNG 2), 20 percent direct equity in Yamal LNG, 20 percent in the Kharyaga oil field, and 49 percent in the TernefteGaz field. It indicated that its Russian footprint includes approximately 500,000 b/d of production, or about 17% of total company production, 2.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent proven reserves, and $13.7 billion of capital employed. However, TotalEnergies said that it will not invest in new Russian projects, including Arctic LNG 2, which is in the construction phase after the final investment decision was made in 2019. The three trains are scheduled to come on stream in 2023, 2024, and 2026, respectively.
What rationale did TotalEnergies provide for its decision to remain in Russia?
On March 22, 2022, in response to accusations of “complicity in war crimes,” TotalEnergies shared a set of Principles of Conduct related to Russia with its shareholders and the public. These principles include the following:
- TotalEnergies will keep supplying gas to Europe via the Yamal LNG project in accordance with the EU decision to maintain Russian gas supply at this stage.
- TotalEnergies will not find a non-Russian buyer for its interests in Russia, given current EU sanctions and Russian laws. Abandoning these assets would enrich Russian investors, in contradiction with the intent of the sanctions.
- TotalEnergies is not an operator for any of its projects in Russia. For example, Yamal LNG is operated by JSC Yamal LNG, a JV comprised of Novatek (50.1 percent), TotalEnergies (20 percent), the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) (10 percent), and the Silk Road Fund (9.9 percent). Arctic LNG 2 is operated by a JV comprised of Novatek (60%), TotalEnergies (10%, plus an 11.6% indirect interest through its shareholding in Novatek), CNPC (10 percent), the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) (10 percent), and Japan Arctic LNG (10 percent), a consortium of Mitsui and Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC).
- The operations of these fields will not be impacted by the exit of TotalEnergies from these projects.
What have the service companies decided?
Leading international service companies including Schlumberger, Halliburton, Baker Hughes, and Weatherford made similar announcements that they 1) will not invest in any new business in Russia, and 2) will fulfill existing contractual commitments in compliance with international laws and sanctions.
Service companies involved in the ongoing construction of Arctic LNG 2 have not made any official announcement. These include the French-American company Technip Energies, which won a $7.6 billion contract, as well as the Italian company Saipem and the Turkish company Renaissance, which jointly won a €2.2 billion contract from Arctic LNG 2.
How about Asian companies?
Asian companies have all chosen to remain in Russia. They are primarily involved in the Sakhalin fields and all three Russian LNG projects (Sakhalin 2, Yamal LNG, and Arctic LNG 2).
CNPC has a 20 percent interest in Yamal LNG and a 10 percent interest in Arctic LNG 2.
CNOOC has a 10 percent stake in Arctic LNG 2. On March 30, during CNOOC’s 2021 annual results call, the company’s chairman, Wang Dongjin, said “It is too early to make a decision while the Russia-Ukraine situation changes all the time.”
Sinopec has reportedly suspended discussions around two future projects – a petrochemical plant with Sibur and a gas marketing JV with Novatek.
India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has three oil projects in Russia primarily with Rosneft (20 percent interest in Sakhalin 1, 26.6 percent in the Vankor fields together with three other Indian companies, and 100 percent in Imperial Energy, which produces oil in Russia). ONGC has approximately 62,000 b/d of production from Russia, representing 44 percent of its international production in fiscal year 2021. According to the Indian press, ONGC and its other partners (Rosneft and the Japanese Sakhalin Oil and Gas Development consortium [SODECO]) have been discussing how to continue Sakhalin 1 operations following ExxonMobil’s decision to exit Russia. ONGC has reportedly run into challenges selling Russia-sourced crude.
Japanese companies are involved in the Sakhalin 1 and 2 projects, in addition to Arctic LNG 2. SODECO has a 30 percent interest in the Sakhalin 1 project, together with ExxonMobil (operator), Rosneft, and ONGC. The consortium has reportedly inquired with ExxonMobil about the details of its exit plan from Sakhalin 1.
Mitsui is involved in Sakhalin 2 (12.5 percent) and Arctic LNG 2 (10 percent with Japanese partner JOGMEC). In its business update from March 4, Mitsui stated that 1) it is complying with international sanctions, 2) it is in consultation with Japanese government and other stakeholders, while taking into account Japan’s energy supply security, and 3) there is no change to its forecast for fiscal year 2022.
Mitsubishi holds a 10 percent stake in Sakhalin 2 and together with its Japanese partner Mitsui (12.5 percent) is engaging the Japanese government to assess how best to handle the situation following Shell’s decision to exit. According to Mitsubishi, about 60 percent of the 9.6 million tons per year of LNG that it produces at Sakhalin 2 is shipped to Japan.
In summary, in view of different decisions made by foreign energy investors in Russia, all of the projects will likely continue with minimum interruption, except for two gas export projects — Nord Stream 2 and Arctic LNG 2— due to government approval and funding issues. The initiation of any new Russian LNG projects is unlikely in the near future.
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 bp, “bp to exit Rosneft shareholding,” press release, February 27, 2022, https://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/news-and-insights/press-releases/bp-to-exit-rosneft-shareholding.html.
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