Source: Alamy / Legion media
Losing one new international partnership could be called unfortunate, but what do you call losing two within the space of a month? That's a question that might have been put to former Rosneft chairman Igor Sechin on June 11 - had he been around - after it was announced that the state-controlled oil company's deal with Chevron to explore the Black Sea has broken down.
The deputy prime minister was beaming in January as he kicked off the new year with two high-profile deals that paired Rosneft with major international partners. While economists pontificated about recovery in Davos, Sechin was signing off on partnerships with BP and ExxonMobil that would allow the international companies to boost their reserves while the Russian giant benefited from their offshore expertise.
President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin were also happy with the news, which gave them the opportunity to boast about improvements to Russia's investment climate (even if the deals did little to help diversify the economy away from its oil addiction).
Just six months later, things could hardly be more different. On June 10, as Rosneft held its annual meeting, Sechin was not present; he was ousted from his chairmanship as part of Medvedev's purge of government officials from boardrooms; After a long, slow struggle, the company’s proposed deal with BP to explore the Arctic was finally put out of its misery in May; Now, a joint-venture with Chevron that had the potential to swell to a $32 billion investment looks like it's going the same way, thanks to disagreements on energy estimates.
Asked at the annual meeting if the arrangement between Rosneft unit Val Shatskogo and the U.S. company to explore the West Chernomorsky field in the Black Sea was to go forward, Rosneft chief executive Eduard Khudainatov replied: "apparently not," reported Reuters. "We had a normal argument between partners. We had a categorical disagreement with Chevron's geologists," he said in explanation.
However, Khudainatov insisted that Rosneft may still work with Chevron on other offshore projects. "Chevron remains our partner. We work closely together," he said. "Chevron wants to continue working on shelf projects with us."
Meanwhile, Prime Tass reported that Lukoil - which like Rosneft has limited experience in offshore drilling - could replace Chevron in the Black Sea project.
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