Eager to boost control over natural riches, Russia’s Energy Ministry has proposed to classify more oil reserves as “strategic.”
The officials suggest lowering the defining threshold from 70 million tonnes to 30 million.
Currently, all reserves that contain less than 70 million tones can be explored by anyone, while those offering more are distributed between state-owned enterprises.
While the officials insists that the move will reduce the risk of Russian oil being used by side companies, the draft’s critics say the change will seriously harm competition in the industry, as well as investments.
“For me, the bill comes as a surprise,” Konstantin Simonov, head of National Energy Security Fund, told RT. “During last two years, everyone in power was speaking of the liberalization of the access for foreign companies. This is not so liberal.”
Simonov argued that the idea can even be dangerous to Russian business.
“A lot of new deals between state companies and Russian and foreign private companies are signed,” Simonov said. “There is a serious need in new investment and new technology. Without foreign companies, it is impossible to further explore Russia’s oil.”