Sechin: Rosneft could go private

Company's CEO says the market would have to recover to 2014 levels before going private.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  Feb. 10, 2016 at 8:10 AM
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LONDON, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- Russia's state-owned oil company Rosneft could move toward privatization, though oil markets would first have to stage a major recovery, the CEO said.

Rosneft Chief Executive Officer Igor Sechin is meeting with ministerial counterparts and business leaders at an oil conference in London. The annual International Petroleum Week conference comes as export-dependent economies like Russia's face steady pressure from lower crude oil prices.

Last year, Sechin asked the Kremlin to use a national welfare fund to support the growing debt of Rosneft, which has struggled under the pressure of economic sanctions and lower crude oil prices. He said from London he'd consider a move toward privatization, but only with a strong market recovery.

"This is a very simple question if we consider it at the expert level -- we just have to wait for $100 per barrel price," he said.

Brent crude oil last sold above the $100 per barrel mark on Sept. 4, 2014.

Sechin is considered one of the most powerful men in Russia, serving as deputy prime minister in President Vladimir Putin's government until 2012. Any move toward privatization would be implemented by the management at Rosneft, though initial considerations should be made by the government, he said.

"However, I think other circumstances should be taken into account here, such as issues related to generation of additional budget revenues," he added.

Russia was said to have considered working with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to stem production in an effort to boost crude oil prices, though OPEC, led tacitly by Saudi Arabia, has brushed off those rumors.

In January, Saudi Aramco, known officially as the Saudi Arabian Oil Co., said it would allow "broad public participation" in its shares through an initial public offering. Sechin said his corporate team has been following the news of the Saudi Aramco IPO with "great interest."

"We think moving in that direction would increase the company's transparency, would give market players much more information on the company's potential, including in terms of resources and its efficiency," he said.

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