Russian state-controlled oil producer Gazprom Neft is reportedly seeking an orderly exit for Shell from their Salym joint venture in West Siberia.
According to an arbitration court filing in Moscow released into the public domain earlier this week, Gazprom Neft subsidiary GPN Salymskiye Proyekty has requested that the court amend an earlier ruling and permit Shell to take full control of its 50% stake in Salym Petroleum Development (SPD).
SPD operates a group of three Salym oilfields in West Siberia’s Yamal-Nenets region and holds an exploration and development licence for a prospective block in the same region.
GPN Salymskiye Proyekty earlier this year obtained a court order that imposed restrictions on Shell’s shareholder rights to sell or otherwise manage or dispose of its stake in SPD.
The company had accused Shell of attempting to undermine the financial stability of the joint venture and disrupt its normal operations by refusing to lift oil cargoes held under its equity interest in SPD.
GPN Salymskiye Proyekty now wants the court to grant Shell permission to pass its shareholding in the venture to another subsidiary of the Russian oil producer, GPN Middle East Projects, after the UK supermajor regains its shareholder rights.
GPN Middle East Projects was incorporated in St Petersburg as a limited liability firm in 2020 with the purpose of conducting equity investments, according to company registration data.
Moscow business daily Kommersant has suggested that the subsidiary is likely to offer the stake in the venture to unidentified Middle East investors that are not restricted from dealing with Gazprom Neft and Russia by international sanctions.
A Shell spokesperson said the company cannot comment on the case.
SPD had relied heavily on Shell's enhanced recovery and reservoir management technology to prop up production rates at the three depleting oilfields.
Shell announced its decision to withdraw from Russian oil and gas projects and to stop buying Russian oil in March this year following the invasion of Ukraine.
However, the company’s efforts exit its most valuable Russian project in Russia, the Sakhalin 2 oil and gas development, met with opposition from authorities, with Russian President Vladimir Putin ordering the confiscation of Sakhalin 2 oil and gas assets and their subsequent transfer to a new, Russia-controlled operator.
The court is set to convene 22 December to consider and rule on the GPN Salymskiye Proyekty request.