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 TillersonOvernight Defense: Trump rails against media coverage | Calls reporting on Iran tensions 'highly inaccurate' | GOP senator blocking Trump pick for Turkey ambassador | Defense bill markup next week Trump frustrated with advisers over Iran, wants to speak to leaders in Tehran: report Juan Williams: Trump's scorecard is rife with losses 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 PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinWhat the Mueller report tells us about Putin, Russia and Trump's election Cohen says Trump attorney told him to say Trump Tower talks ended earlier than they did Butina asks for donations to pay legal expenses MORE.

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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.