Posted on December 23, 2015 | By Bloomberg
ConocoPhillips exited the Russian oil sector with the sale of its stake in a field that was one of the first foreign energy investments after the disintegration of the Soviet Union.
The company had been searching for a buyer for its 50 percent share of the Polar Lights field in northwestern Russia for more than 18 months as output slumped and international sanctions made it harder for U.S. companies to operate in Russia. The company sold its stake to Trisonnery Asset Ltd., Kris Sava, a ConocoPhillips spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement.
ConocoPhillips was among the first western oil explorers to invest in post-Soviet Russia when it acquired its Polar Lights stake in 1992. The sale is the final crumb from a Russian empire which once included a 20 percent shareholding in Russia’s second-largest oil producer Lukoil PJSC. The company sold the last of its Lukoil shares in 2011 for a total of about $9.5 billion, as a Russian venture with Lukoil disappointed and international projects failed to materialize.
ConocoPhillips’s exit follows that of Hess Corp., which sold its Russian Samara Nafta holding for $2 billion in 2013, the same year that BP Plc reduced exposure to Russia when it took $12.5 billion in cash from its sale of TNK-BP to Rosneft.
BP Plc, however, is pushing ahead with its Russia strategy, signing up for a Siberian oil venture this year with Rosneft, where it is the largest shareholder after the Russian government.
The company’s share of Polar Lights production was the equivalent of about 4,000 barrels a day in 2014. ConocoPhillips Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ryan Lance has slashed capital spending and scaled back deep-water exploration to focus on shale drilling in the U.S. and less-risky projects in places such as Malaysia and the North Sea.