Oil workers have warned the Kremlin about the risks of tightening foreign exchange control

The arguments of the oil companies

“Rosneft” and “Gazprom Neft” warned the presidential administration and the government staff about the risks for the oil and gas industry from a possible tightening of foreign exchange controls. On Wednesday, June 22, reported “Interfax” with reference to the letter of top managers of the company to the government and the Kremlin. A member of one of the oil companies confirmed RBC sent letters to the government.

According to “Interfax”, the concerns of companies associated with the bill, which envisages amendments to the law on currency regulation and currency control and the code of administrative violations. The amendments oblige the Russian physical and legal persons upon the expiration of the contract to return to the country loans granted to foreign companies and citizens. Thus the authors of the law wanted to close the loophole for withdrawal from the country. For violation of terms of return to Russia on loan to the foreign money in the bill provides for administrative liability: a penalty in the amount of 1/150 of the refinancing rate of the Central Bank of the amount returned by the deadline (for each day of delay). And for the payment of money, — withdrawal from 3/4 to the full amount of the loan.

The bill was passed by the state Duma in the first reading in late January, one of its authors — the head of the Duma Committee on ekonompolitike and entrepreneurship Anatoly Aksakov.

In the letters of “Rosneft” and “Gazprom oil” says that companies with foreign investors to develop deposits outside Russia. Russian companies provide foreign firms with financing under the loan agreements, reports “Interfax”. The timing of the return of these funds can vary including because of the objective difficulties with the implementation of projects, and the proposed amendments create the risk of violations by Russian companies of the currency legislation, to the letter.

Exception for hydrocarbons

Oilmen propose to amend the bill a provision that would free them from the obligation to return the money to the country when it comes to financing overseas exploration or production of hydrocarbons, and the refund is put in dependence on results of work and revenue. In addition, it is proposed to exempt the company from liability, if the complexity of the projects arose due to the sanctions and to foresee possible ways of the termination of the obligations of the borrower, for example by offsetting claims or granting compensation. Also “Rosneft” and “Gazprom Neft”, please do not distribute innovation for loan agreements concluded before the amendments enter into force.

Both companies in April addressed a proposal to modify the bill in the state legal Directorate of the President, but their suggestions were not taken into account, it follows from the letter of June “Gazprom oil” in the address of the first Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov (RBC got acquainted with the text). The bill in its current form significantly limits the ways (forms) of financial participation of the lender in investment projects”, according to the document: “the restrictions will affect the most popular in the world practices of financing of innovative projects, including Russian projects with foreign investors.”

The representative of the office Shuvalov acknowledged receipt of the letter. According to him, it is painted in profile departments, including Ministry of Finance, with instructions to consider and submit their proposals. Answers are expected in early July.

The oil with foreigners

“Rosneft” and “Gazprom Neft” work with foreign partners on the shelf and in projects for exploration and production of tight oil resources onshore.

Among the partners of Rosneft — ExxonMobil joint projects in the Kara and Black seas and Sakhalin), BP (fields in Eastern and Western Siberia), the pool of Indian companies, including ONGC Videsh (Vankor field). In addition, Rosneft has partnered with China’s Sinopec (Russkoye field and share in Udmurtneft”) and Norwegian Statoil (offshore section of the “Magadan-1”).

Gazprom Neft together with Shell implements the project on development of tight oil resources “Salym petroleum”. The largest overseas asset “Gazprom oil” is the Serbian NIS, which is developing fields in Serbia, Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary and Romania (she also owns refineries in Pancevo and Novi Sad). In Iraq, the company is involved in the development of the Badra field and conducting geological prospecting on three blocks.

Difficulties in repayment of loans made through foreign firms, oil companies have indeed possible: their projects with foreign partners are often delayed for economic reasons or because of technological difficulties, the Dean of the faculty of Geology Gubkin Russian state University of oil and gas. Gubkin Alexander Lobusev. The input fields on the shelf at current oil prices is delayed due to high production costs and sanctions, the expert adds (since the summer of 2014 the price of Brent crude fell by more than twice).

Not only oil

Toughening of the currency legislation of care, and RUSNANO, told RBC a source familiar with the discussion of the amendments. According to him, the CEO of state Corporation Anatoly Chubays has addressed this issue in the Ministry of Finance and the government. The representative of “RUSNANO” did not comment on the fact of appeals, but stated that “the current version of the draft Russian law puts investors at a disadvantage compared to foreigners.”

One of the most common in the world practices of financing of innovative projects is the loan company the subsequent conversion of debt into shares, cites the example of the representative “Rosnano”. The proposed amendment will limit this scheme to work, he fears. In addition, as oil companies “Rosnano” requests not to distribute the effect of the amendments on existing and existing investment agreement.

If amendments to the legislation will be delayed until the autumn, over the summer the oilers will be able to find a compromise with the Finance Ministry expects a source in “Gazprom oil”.

In mid-may, the state Duma Council decided to defer consideration of this bill and, apparently, his decision, indeed, has been postponed until the fall, said RBC Aksakov. At the last plenary session of the current convocation of the Duma, which will be held June 24, discussion of the bill shall not be imposed. According to Aksakov, the differences on the amendments was also between the government and the Central Bank, and while they are not allowed. To clarify the essence of these disagreements, the Deputy refused.

Representatives “Rosneft” and “Gazprom Neft declined to comment, the press service of the Ministry of Finance did not respond to a request RBC.