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10 Oct 2022

Louis Goddard, Global Witness

Chevron accused of lobbying CPC pipeline flow through Russia

Officials and industry hesitate over future of Russian blended oil flows, 10 October 2022

Speaking at an energy industry event in London...United States government officials and oil company executives expressed hesitancy about the future of crude flows via the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) route, which carries Kazakh and Russian oil from the Caspian Sea to a Russian Black Sea port for export.

ExxonMobil owns a 7.5% stake in the pipeline via an affiliate, along with 25% and 16.81% respectively of the Tengiz and Kashagan oil fields in Kazakhstan.

Asked by Global Witness about the future of the pipeline, Liam Mallon, President of Exxon’s upstream business, said that the company was looking for “flexibility” in how it brings its oil to market, and – as with Exxon’s other Russian interests – would have to “make decisions about whether returning makes sense or not”...

Speaking on Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Mallon acknowledged that Exxon is in a “minute-by-minute, day-by-day" discussions over the future of its business in Russia, and appeared to reveal that the company’s partner, Chevron, has been leading a lobbying effort to keep CPC pipeline oil flowing.

“We’re very fortunate to have an outstanding partner in Chevron, leading the influence strategy along with us and partners in the Kashagan [oil field]”, Mr. Mallon said. “We’re playing a significant role in making sure that [the pipeline] is understood.” Chevron owns a 50% stake in the Tengiz field.

Chevron did not respond to a request for comment from Global Witness...

When shipped from the Russian port of Novorossiysk, individual CPC cargoes carry either a Kazakh or a Russian certificate of origin, with the volumes exported supposed to match the volumes injected into the system by producers in each country. But the continued operation of the pipeline keeps open an export route for oil, while leaving Russian president Vladimir Putin with an important geopolitical bargaining chip.

Analysts have suggested that a series of apparent accidents involving the CPC pipeline since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine – including weather damage and unscheduled environmental inspections – may be partly attributable to interference by the Russian state.

Part of the following timelines

Ukraine: Global outrage over Russian invasion leads to sanctions, demands for businesses to divest

Ukraine invasion: Companies with interests in Russian oil & gas forced to reassess operations

Chevron allegedly lobbying to keep oil flowing in CPC pipeline that goes through Russia; includes co. response