Rosneft is preparing to lead an Arctic oil field development project that will cost an estimated $157 billion (10 trillion rubles).
Reuters quoted Russia’s Deputy Energy Minister Pavel Sorokin as announcing the price tag of the Vostok Oil project to media last week, adding that the Kremlin had already agreed on a tax relief package that would help with the Artic oil and gas push.
The Vostok Oil project will include already producing fields as well as untapped ones, and Rosneft will develop them along with partner Independent Petroleum Company. The tax relief for this project alone could reach some $940 million (60 billion rubles) annually, the chief of the tax department of Russia’s Finance Ministry said.
The tax relief package for the energy industry has been the subject of heated debate in political circles because at the same time that the Kremlin is lending its generous support for oil and gas, it is hiking other taxes, on citizens, and extending the retirement age as part of a delayed and highly unpopular retirement system reform.
Alexei Sazanov, the head of the tax department at Russia’s finance ministry, told reporters at the same event on Friday that tax benefits for Vostok Oil could cost up to 60 billion roubles per year. The comments by Sorokin and Sazanov were embargoed until early on Monday.
Russia’s budget surplus, projected at 1.7% of gross domestic product this year, is expected to shrink to 0.2% in 2022, partly due to the various supports offered to the energy sector, a cornerstone of budget revenue.