The US Treasury on Friday denied Exxon Mobil’s request for a waiver to exempt it from sanctions on Russia, according to the Associated Press.
The Irving, Texas-based supermajor had wanted to resume drilling for oil and natural gas in the Black Sea and the Kara Sea, joint operations with Russian energy giant Rosneft.
But US firms have been barred from business with Russian entities since sanctions were imposed in 2014 in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its perceived role in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin issued a brief statement on Friday saying that, after consultation with President Donald Trump, it was decided no waivers would be issued to Exxon and the Russia sanctions would be upheld.
The Wall Street Journal first reported on Wednesday that Exxon had applied for the waiver but at the time Exxon’s spokesman declined to address the issue.
This time Exxon said it understood the Treasury decision but pointed out that it would effectively be handing a competitive advantage to European energy companies, which have been given certain waivers by their authorities.
Exxon’s former chief executive is Rex Tillerson, the new US Secretary of State, and that fact alone sparked talk in the US of conspiracy and favouritism before Treasury rejected the application.
Political figures from both sides of the divide criticized the initial reports that Exxon was seeking a waiver, saying it would be inappropriate while allegations of alleged Russian interference in the US presidential election are still being investigated.
Exxon also has revealed that, under the administration of previous President Barack Obama, it received three waivers of the sanctions for limited work with Rosneft.