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Russia Watchdog Seeks to Widen Offshore Access for Oil Producers

Russia’s antitrust watchdog is urging the government to open access to oil and gas deposits on the continental shelf to non-state producers such as OAO Lukoil.

The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service has proposed changes to the subsoil resource law that would drop a requirement that bidders for the offshore licenses be state controlled, according to a draft published on the service’s website yesterday. The amendments would ensure the national security services have the right to restrict access for companies with foreign investors.

The draft also retains requirements that producers have five years of experience developing deposits offshore, according to the document.

Lukoil, which President Vladimir Putin touted to investors in June as an example of a Russian company with foreign participation, has lobbied against the current law, which has blocked it from seeking licenses to deposits in Russia’s Arctic and Black seas. Vagit Alekperov, billionaire chief executive officer, told Putin at the time that the second-largest Russian oil producer is 50 percent foreign owned.

Lukoil has experience developing oil and gas projects in the Caspian and Baltic seas.

OAO Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil producer, seeks to lead the country’s offshore development, signing exploration accords this year with Exxon Mobil Corp., Eni SpA and Statoil ASA. The company has also offered Russia’s non-state companies, including BP Plc’s Russian oil venture TNK-BP, possible participation in projects on the continental shelf.

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