A little-known privately owned oil and gas company, LLC Novye Proekty (New Projects), has acquired a Russian license for exploration and production of oil and gas on the Black Sea shelf of Russian-occupied Crimea, according to the Russian newspaper Kommersant.
Businessman Anton Dornostup is the company`s chief owner, according to official information, he is close to the family of the former head of Russia`s Federal Agency for Subsoil Use (Rosnedra) Valery Pak, although a number of Kommersant`s sources associate Novye Proekty with fugitive Ukrainian oligarch Serhiy Kurchenko, Kommersant wrote.
Late last year, Dornostup sent a letter to Rosnedra, informing that the company plans to draw up a plan in 2017 for prospecting at the Hlyboka (Glubokaya) site, Kommersant said. What is more, Russian Prime Minister Prime Dmitry Medvedev ordered in June 2016 to issue a 30-year license to the company for this site, according to pravo.gov.ru.
LLC Novye Proekty shall drill a prospecting well within the next eight years, according to Kommersant.
Private companies working on this shelf is surprising, as only state companies are legally allowed to work on the area, except for ”old” licenses issued before 2008, it said.
At the same time, according to the newspaper, Novye Proekty obtained the license under a simplified procedure for Crimea, and in 2015, the company did not have any assets and did not conduct business operations.
Medvedev`s press secretary Natalia Timakova redirected journalists` requests to the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources, where officials declined to comment on the situation.
It is also known that Novye Proekty had a license for the Hlyboka site in 2012, but it was a Ukrainian legal entity at that time.
Kommersant`s two sources in the Russian government claim that Novye Proekty`s beneficiary is Kurchenko, who is now residing in Moscow after he fled Ukraine amid the Revolution of Dignity. Meanwhile, a source of Kommersant that is close to Novye Proekty denies this information.
Earlier, Russian state unitary enterprise Chernomorneftegaz, which illegally seized the assets of the Ukrainian company Chornomornaftogaz after Russia annexed Crimea in the spring of 2014, produces 2 billion cubic meters of natural gas on the Black Sea shelf every year. The gas is sold to Crimean customers.