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Exxon Mobil Seeks U.S. Sanctions Waiver for Oil Project in Russia

"Exxon Mobil is pursuing a waiver from Treasury Department sanctions on Russia to drill in the Black Sea in a venture with Rosneft, the Russian state oil company," the New York Times (April 20, Krauss) has learned. According to the newspaper, the waiver application was made under the Obama administration, and the company has not dropped the proposal. It is now before the Trump White House at a most delicate time in Russian-American relations, as tensions rise over the war in Syria and an impending congressional inquiry into reports of Russian efforts to tamper with the last presidential election. The appeal did not come up during Senate confirmation hearings for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was CEO of Exxon Mobil prior to his nomination by President Trump.

Fortune (April 19) notes that annual shareholder disclosures show that Texas-based Exxon was granted licenses allowing "limited administrative actions" in Russia on at least three occasions in 2015 and last year. The U.S. and European Union imposed economic sanctions on Russia over its 2014 annexation of the Crimea region and its role in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. "Exxon, the world's largest publicly traded oil producer, wound down drilling in Russia's Arctic in 2014 after those sanctions were imposed," recalls the publication. "Exxon was allowed to finish some drilling projects as the sanctions took effect."

Separately, U.S. News and World Report (April 19) is reporting that Exxon Mobil Corp. and Saudi Arabia Basic Industries Corp. have announced plans to build a multi-billion dollar petrochemical plant near the Texas coast. The proje