Rosneft demands half of national welfare fund after tightening of Western sanctions

By bne IntelliNews October 23, 2014

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Russia's largest oil company, state-owned Rosneft, has filed a request for more than RUB2 trillion ($49bn) from the National Wealth Fund, a sovereign wealth fund, Finance Minster Anton Siluanov told RIA Novosti on October 22.  The request follows a tightening of sanctions on Rosneft and other Russian state-owned companies in September, as a result of  Russian support for separatist fighters in Ukraine.

The RUB2 trillion sum marks a RUB500bn ($12bn) increase on a request made to the National Welfare Fund in August before the latest round of sanctions. At the time, ministers from the government's financial bloc indicated that Rosneft would receive only around $3.9bn, alongside gas producer Novatek, also hit by sanctions.

The latest sum named by finance minister Siluanov, regarded as a fiscal hawk, comprises more than half of the RUB3.2 trillion currently held in the National Welfare Fund.

Western sanctions have cut off Rosneft's access to western capital markets, just as Rosneft has to pay down $20bn in debt in the last quarter of 2014 and first quarter of 2015, much of which was borrowed to fund the acquisition of oil company TNK-BP in 2013. Rosneft is also faced with a falling oil price, down to $85 a barrel for Brent crude. 

Rosneft is formally claiming funds from the national welfare fund to finance large-scale investment projects, not to pay down its debt. Among the investment projects needing funding are a project to build a refining complex in the Russian far east,  and to develop gas fields in eastern Siberia.

Energy minister Alexander Novak said on October 22 that his ministry had approved requests from both Rosneft and gas producer Novatek, without specifying what sums had been approved.

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