New US sanctions target Russian energy sector

The United States stepped up sanctions against Russia’s energy sector Friday with new restrictions on exporting technology and services that support oil exploration.

The Treasury Department announced Friday that U.S. companies are prohibited from helping five major Russian energy companies to explore for or produce oil in deepwater, the Arctic or shale.

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The sanctions add to previous actions against Russia’s energy sector and were part of a wide range of measures announced Friday by the United States. The European Union implemented similar sanctions.

“Today’s actions demonstrate our determination to increase the costs on Russia as long as it continues to violate Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,” Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen said in a statement.

The affected companies are Gazprom, Gazprom Neft, Lukoil, Surgutneftegas and Rosneft.

Another major piece of Friday’s sanctions included a prohibition on United States companies providing debt financing to some major Russia banks and corporations.

Two energy companies — Gazprom Neft and Transneft — were included in those prohibitions.

In the months since Russia stepped up its aggression against Ukraine and annexed the Crimea region, Russia has been subjected to increasing sanctions from the West, including on its powerful energy industry.

Previous rounds of penalties have hit financing for the oil and gas companies and targeted specific technologies in an attempt to stop new exploration for fossil fuels.