Undeterred by Russia controversy, Exxon moves ahead with drilling project


Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) is determined to move forward with plans to explore the Russian Arctic for oil and gas: Just two days after the downing of a passenger airliner over Ukraine led to mounting pressure for new sanctions against Russia, a drilling rig to be operated by XOM and partner Rosneft (OTC:RNFTF) set sail from Norway for Russia.

For XOM, the deal - which was reached in 2011 - offers access to the Arctic in the Russian-controlled areas of the ocean, as drilling in the U.S. and Canadian far north remains bogged down in regulation and lawsuits; the Russian oil industry depends on Western technical aid for offshore drilling, delivered through joint venture partnerships such as the XOM agreement.

It is unclear how or if XOM could recoup its initial $3.2B investment in the exploration phase of the venture if sanctions on Rosneft are broadened.

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