They were interested in and looking at royalties, export duties, bonuses, taxes, fees, and government profit oil. It includes the value of any essential oil the companies may have delivered to Russia. He presented a list of nine fossil fuel companies from those regions that had paid taxes to Russia. The payments made by those regions were lawful, and other multinational companies outside the energy sector have also made similar payments to the Russian state.
Shell, registered in the United Kingdom, sent $7.85 billion, the most of any publicly traded company, the groups said in a statement, first shared with media. The US-based ExxonMobil ($2.81 billion) followed it. Two German-registered companies, namely ‘Wintershall and Wintershall DEA,’ which have since merged, paid $2.86 billion. Rystad data shows that the British multinational oil and gas company by the name ‘BP’ paid $817 million.
They shared the data amid criticism that the West’s purchases of Russian coal, oil, and gas, largely state assets, have helped finance the War of Russia in Ukraine. The addition of taxes, royalties, and fees, for the fossil fuel companies that have chosen to operate in Russia underscores the quantum of capital Western energy companies have transferred to Russia.
The three groups that gathered the data said that the $15.8 billion figure was substantial. Further, the companies they identified were also accountable for ‘tens of billions’ more dollars flowing into the Russian state due to the stakes they held in companies.
As per Rystad data ‘BP’ had a 19.75% stake in the Russian energy company Rosneft, until recently. For example, Rosneft paid $353.16 billion to Russia in the form of ‘taxes, fees, royalties, and oil profits’ between 2014 and 2021, Global Witness gas campaign leader Murray Worthy said it still had some responsibility for the payments. In contrast, BP may not have paid that money directly to Russia.
He told media that the actual amount these companies are responsible for paying Russia is much closer to the $100 billion mark, but they obscured their holdings in Russian companies. He referred to payments during the period between Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the end of 2021. He believes that BP alone is responsible for $78.4 billion going to the Russian government through the stake in claimed oil and gas giant Rosneft a few weeks ago.
In a statement, he added that the Russian energy industry is Putin’s biggest source of income and companies like BP, who continued to do business with Russia despite the invasion of Crimea. They continue to support money pouring into their war chest. You should surely be wondering if you now have Ukrainian blood on your hands.
BP announced that it would give up the stake just days after Russia had invaded Ukraine in February 2022. It was so because other fossil fuel companies have also followed.
BP spokesman David Nicholas said the company did not acknowledge the $78.4 billion figure in an email. He explained that BP’s only money directly to the Russian state was $350 million in taxes during the six years of the period from 2015 and 2020. The spokesperson failed to make available data for the entire eight-year period.
On February 27, Nicholas said that they announced that they would exit our shareholding in Rosneft, that the two BP-appointed directors will step down from their board with immediate effect, and that we will exit our other business in Russia with Rosneft.
BP now faces a potential $25bn loss related to his departure.
Worthy said that BP could deny responsibility for Rosneft payments to the Russian state. BP is more than happy to benefit from the billions that have flowed from its involvement in the company.
While the dataset focused on payments made primarily through taxes and fees, much more money flows from the West into Russian state coffers in purchased oil and gas. They used that for everything from home heating gas even fuel for automobiles. The actual amount of money passing from ‘oil and gas companies’ in the West to the Russian state would be much higher than the amount paid in ‘taxes and fees.’
Alexandra Gillies, an Natural Resources Governance Institute (NRGI) adviser, said that when Rosneft sells its products for export. Those sales transactions are how it makes most of its money. He focuses on resource-rich countries to achieve sustainability.
According to an NRGI database, in 2019, Rosneft transferred $58.6 billion to the Russian state alone, prior to ‘pandemic prevalence.’
Gillies said that Western companies’ choice of leaving Russia was a step in the right direction. Instead of doing so, it should have come much sooner.
Gillies said that it took this invasion of Ukraine for Western oil companies to say, ‘You know what? We no longer want to allow what this regime is doing.’ They should have made that call much sooner with the assault of Crimea, or with the brutal nature of the ‘Putin regime,’ or with the interference of ‘Putin Regime’ in US elections, or poisoning of opposition figures, even on British soil.
In recent years, so many moments should have led Western companies to disassociate themselves from cooperating with the regime.
‘France-based Total Energies’ ($568 million), ‘Norway-based Equinor’ ($455 million), ‘Austria-based OMV’ ($246 million), and ‘Switzerland-based Trafigura’ ($202 million) are the other four companies listed in the ‘NGO statement.’
Rystad told the media that the basis for his data sets was on the estimates derived from the limited reports available on taxes.
According to Rystad’s data available, it is clear that total Energies has also got stakes in Russian oil and gas companies. It has spent hundreds of millions of dollars more to the government.
Media has reached out to all listed companies, as well as Rosneft, for comment. ExxonMobil did not respond to the media’s request.
Shell did not comment to media on the amount of money paid, pointing to a recent press release. The company announced that it would pull out its participation in all Russian ‘fossil fuel’ activities quickly and stop buying Russian crude oil.
Shell Chief Executive Ben van Beurden also apologized in the statement after the company came under fire to buy a Russian crude cargo in early March. At the same time, other companies and traders shunned the product following Russia’s invasion in February.
TotalEnergies announced on Tuesday that it would stop buying Russian oil at the end of the year but continue buying Russian gas. The company did not respond to the media’s request for comment.
Equinor has shut its operations in Russia and says it has stopped trading Russian oil. When the media asked him if the company would permanently stay out of business in Russia, his spokesman, Ola Morten Aanestad, said that he did not confirm the $455 million figure, saying it is too early to specify the exit process.
An OMV spokesman did not comment on the amount of money it had transferred to Russia when asked by the media. He pointed to a recent statement where the company said it was re-evaluating its involvement in Russia.
Wintershall DEA told the media that the company was not in a position to verify the figures presented to them. Further, it is obvious that it always conducted its business in compliance with all applicable laws.
A Trafigura spokesman said that the company didn’t pay any taxes like other companies to the government of Russia derived from fossil fuel production. The company owns a 10% stake in the Vostok Oil project. Rosneft is the majority shareholder in the company from out of the stake. The spokesman said they had paid out no additional money since the acquisition of the stake in 2020. Trafigura had not received any dividend or similar payment from its stake in Vostok Oil.
Lorne Stockman, co-director of research at Oil Change International, said the world must now avoid looking to other despotic regimes to replace fossil fuels. They are avoiding Russia.
Stockman said that Fossil fuels are the currency of despots, dictators, and warmongers. Our global dependence on oil and gas is not only extinguishing our planet. It also allows the world a ‘less safe and equal place.’ ‘BP and Shell,’ Big Western polluters have been happy to work in countries with despicable human rights records for over a century.
Now it is the time to end the era of ‘fossil fuels.’