Oil and gas giant Exxon Mobil's (NYSE: XOM) plans to drill in the Russian Arctic haven't changed in the wake of U.S. and EU sanctions imposed on Russia and the Kremlin's comments earlier this week that it may retaliate by punishing foreign energy sector firms, the company emphasized in a discussion via webcast and teleconference of its first-quarter earnings on Thursday morning.
"With regards to Russia, of course we will comply with any sanctions, but all of our plans continue to be underway," David Rosenthal, a vice president of investor relations, said.
Exxon and Rosneft have planned a $600 million project the size of Moscow in the Kara Sea that is expected to yield a trove of oil worth more than $900 billion at current prices.
On Monday, the Obama administration announced sanctions on 17 companies and seven individuals, including the head of Russian oil giant Rosneft, Igor Sechin. The sanction on Sechin freezes any assets he may have in the U.S. and prevents him from traveling to the U.S. to meet with business partners, but U.S. companies aren't banned from doing business with Rosneft.
The European Union also announced sanctions on several individuals, freezing their assets.
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Putin said on Tuesday at a Supreme Eurasian Economic Council summit in Minsk that the Russian government has proposed some "retaliatory steps."
“I consider these not necessary," Putin said. "But if something like this continues, then of course we will have to consider who’s working, and how, in the Russian Federation, in the key sectors of the Russian economy, including energy.”
The sanctions are intended to pressure Russia to rein in Moscow-supported, pro-Russian separatists who are causing mayhem in eastern Ukraine. The new Ukrainian government, under orders to pay down an $18.5 billion debt to Russian gas company Gazprom, faces a shutoff of deliveries after May 7. Energy chiefs from Russia, Ukraine and the EU will meet for the first time since the Ukrainian crisis in Poland on Friday.
Exxon reported a 4.2 percent decrease in first-quarter earnings compared with 2013, due to weaker results in refining and chemicals despite exploration and production growth.