ExxonMobil has reportedly asked for a waiver from U.S. sanctions to work in Russia, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. The request, made in "recent months," comes as the oil and gas corporation reportedly eyes resuming its joint venture with Russian state oil company, PAO Rosneft, to drill in the Black Sea.
The application was submitted to the Treasury Department, but the State Department — headed by former ExxonMobil executive Rex Tillerson — will also have a say in whether the oil company gets a waiver from U.S. sanctions on Russia. The Wall Street Journal noted it's not clear whether Exxon applied for the waiver before or after Tillerson was confirmed as President Trump's secretary of state; Tillerson has agreed to recuse himself from Exxon-related discussions for two years.
Tillerson struck a deal with Rosneft in 2012 to drill in Russia's portion of the Black Sea, but the agreement was hampered by sanctions slapped on Russia in 2014 in response to the annexation of Crimea. Though Exxon was previously granted a waiver in 2014 to wrap up its ongoing work there, The Wall Street Journal noted it's "unusual for a company to seek a waiver based purely on future business prospects." Exxon is reportedly worried that if it isn't proactive, it "could get boxed out of the Black Sea," which may hold billions of barrels of oil.
Exxon's request comes as Congress investigates Trump's potential ties to Russia's meddling in the U.S. presidential election.