Private Company Used as Vehicle for Drilling Offshore Crimea in the Black Sea

On March 6, 2017, Kommersant, reported that an obscure private company, Novye Proekty (New Projects), was issued a license for exploration and production of oil and gas offshore Russian-annexed Crimea.  This unknown company, via its new Russian owners, appears to be the chosen vehicle for Moscow’s interest in accelerating drilling activity in its newly claimed territory in the Black Sea.

As a Ukraine-domiciled entity, Novye Proekty reportedly held a license for exploration in the Grubokaya oil and gas fields since 2012.  In May 2016, however, the company was acquired by Russian oil and gas machinery company, JSC Glavsetservis – itself owned and operated by Anton Dornostop, a businessman with connections to the Russian government’s Federal Agency for the Usage of Russian Underground Resources (Rosnedr).

Financial disclosures issued in 2015 by the Russian Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat), revealed that Novye Proetky held no assets and had conducted zero business operations over the relevant reporting period (presumably 2014 or 2015) preceding its Russian acquisition. In June 2016, one month following the acquisition, the company’s license in the Black Sea, which had expired in 2016, was renewed for a 30-year period by Russian authorities.  Novye Proekty announced that it is currently preparing a work plan for exploration and subsequent construction of the well.

Some analysts have concluded that the company’s hollow history helped ease the way for a simplified application process and approval.  It is probable that this company was chosen to carry out the Kremlin’s agenda in the region due to their lack of exposure to international pressure,  The company does not appear to have the kind of global business footprint or market dependencies that other, more significant Russian companies do.