Exxon asks Trump administration for waiver from Russia sanctions

Exxon asks Trump administration for waiver from Russia sanctions
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Oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp. is seeking a waiver from the Trump administration to work with Russia’s state oil company on a joint venture, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Citing people familiar with the matter, the Journal reports that Exxon Mobil asked the Treasury Department in recent months to drill for oil alongside Rosneft.

The drilling would take place in the Black Sea, an area covered by sanctions instituted by the United States to prevent certain business dealings in retaliation for Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonOPINION | There is no Trump administration Why the next Fed chief will be a Republican who loves low rates Why this US-North Korea standoff is different MORE was Exxon Mobil’s CEO in 2012 when he struck the joint venture deal, worth hundreds of billions of dollars, with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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The State Department is one of the agencies that helps Treasury decide on sanctions waivers. Tillerson promised to recuse himself from matters related to Exxon Mobil for his first two years at the State Department.

Tillerson was awarded Russia’s Order of Friendship in 2013 due to the deal and his relationship with Putin. That caused numerous senators to question during his confirmation process whether he was too close to Russia and Putin.

It is unclear if Exxon Mobil applied for the waiver before or after Tillerson was confirmed as Trump’s top diplomat, the Journal said.

Treasury does not speak publicly about such waivers or their considerations, and Exxon Mobil did not return a request for comment.

Exxon Mobil obtained a waiver months after the sanctions were first put in place so that it could finish drilling a well in the Arctic Ocean.