Exxon Mobil Corp. has applied to the Treasury Department for a waiver from U.S. sanctions on Russia in a bid to resume its joint venture with state oil giant PAO Rosneft, according to people familiar with the matter.
Exxon has been seeking U.S. permission to drill with Rosneft in several areas banned by sanctions and applied in recent months for a waiver to proceed in the Black Sea, according to these people.
The Black Sea request is likely to be closely scrutinized by members of Congress who are seeking to intensify sanctions on Russia in response to what the U.S. said was its use of cyberattacks to interfere with elections last year. Congress has also launched an investigation into whether there were ties between aides to Donald Trump and Russia’s government during the presidential campaign and the political transition.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is Exxon’s former chief executive officer and in that role forged a close working relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and with Rosneft, a company that is critical to Russia’s oil-reliant economy.
The State Department is among the U.S. government agencies that have a say on Exxon’s waiver application, according to current and former U.S. officials.
Mr. Tillerson is recusing himself from any matters involving Exxon for two years, and won’t be involved with any decision made by any government agency involving Exxon during this period, a State Department spokesman said.
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