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ExxonMobil Demands Millions in Overpaid Taxes from Russia

March 18, 2015
ExxonMobil has reportedly been paying 35% of its profit to Moscow despite the state reducing taxes to 20% in 2009.

MOSCOW - U.S. oil and gas giant ExxonMobil (IW 500/1) is demanding millions of euros in back taxes from Moscow that it believes it overpaid on a project in Russia's Far East, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

Exxon chief executive Rex Tillerson was in Moscow on Wednesday for closed-door meetings with Energy Minister Alexander Novak, a spokesman for the minister told AFP.

The Kommersant daily reported Tillerson was in town to contest taxes paid on the Sakhalin-1 project in the Far East operated by ExxonMobil which owns 30% of the operation.

The company has allegedly been paying 35% of its profit to Moscow despite the state reducing taxes to 20% in 2009, reported Kommersant.

The newspaper said that while Exxon had not insisted on the issue in the past years, sanctions over Russia's role in the Ukraine crisis had seen the company change tack and threaten to file a complaint against Moscow at the international court of arbitration in Stockholm.

Sources quoted by the respected daily said the amount involved was up to $160 million.

ExxonMobil has nurtured close ties with Russian oil giant Rosneft in recent years, launching numerous joint projects in the Arctic and Far East.

Sakhalin-1 -- a project to find and produce oil and gas off the island of the same name -- is the largest recipient of foreign direct investment in Russia.

However Rosneft has been hit by sanctions over the Ukraine crisis resulting in several projects being frozen. In February ExxonMobil said it had racked up a billion dollars in loss of potential earnings as a result.

Tillerson was also due to meet with Finance Minister Anton Siluanov and Rosneft boss Igor Sechin, Kommersant reported.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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