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18 Dec 2013
London, 18 December 2013 -- The onerous tax burden, lack of investor-friendly legislation
and the risk of unpredictable government actions and interference are
amongst the factors that will continue to constrain foreign direct investment
(FDI) in the oil and gas sector in Russia, says Moody's Investors
Service in a Special Comment report on the sector published today.
The new report, entitled "Regulatory and Tax Constraints Will
Limit Future Foreign Direct Investment in the Russian Oil and Gas Sector",
is now available on www.moodys.com. Moody's
subscribers can access this report via the link provided at the end of
this press release.
"Although Russia is less reliant on oil and gas revenues than Azerbaijan
and to a similar extent as Kazakhstan and is taking steps to ease taxation
to stimulate investment upstream, it still imposes stricter controls
and a heavier tax burden on companies operating in its oil and gas sector,"
says Julia Pribytkova, a Vice President - Senior Analyst
in Moody's Corporate Finance Group and author of the report.
FDI is important because Russia needs to develop resources in remote areas
as its traditional oil and gas production areas are maturing.
"To maintain, if not grow, production levels Russia
will need to explore significantly harder-to-extract reserves
than those in its traditional basins. This will require a step-up
in capital expenditure and technical expertise, supported by a sustainably
favourable tax regime and risk-sharing mechanisms with global partners,"
adds Ms. Pribytkova. However, in Moody's view,
creating such benign conditions will be hard to achieve given the Russian
government's desire to raise more cash to finance the country's
projected budget deficit and the current barriers to entry for foreign
players, such as limits on ownership.
Socioeconomic factors may prompt Russia to increase taxes on the oil and
gas sector in the future. This is because the Russian government
is increasing spending to meet soaring social costs at a time when revenues
from other sectors of the economy are falling. The oil price required
to balance Russia's budget is high -- at above $100
per barrel (bbl) -- so if prices were to fall below this
level for a prolonged period it could potentially prompt the Russian government
to raise taxes on the sector.
Moody's would expect the Kazakh and Azeri oil and gas sectors to
be better positioned to grow production and maintain their financial robustness
even if oil and gas prices fall. This is because the oil price
required to balance their budgets is significantly lower than in Russia
and their hydrocarbon industries will continue to benefit from relatively
benign tax and regulatory regimes that are more attractive to foreign
The operating and financial performance of both private and state-owned
Russian oil and gas companies could suffer if the government makes changes
to the taxation system and/or to the regulatory environment that make
the sector less attractive to foreign investors. Among the companies
that could be affected are OAO LUKOIL (Baa2 stable), OAO Novatek
(Baa3 stable), RussNeft (Ba3 negative), Bashneft (Ba2 stable),
Tatneft OAO (Baa3 stable), OJSC Gazprom (Baa1 stable), Gazprom
Neft JSC (Baa2 stable) and OJSC Oil Company Rosneft (Baa1 stable).
This is because co-operation with global majors is particularly
important for the development of hard-to-recover reserves,
which in addition to financial support, will require the exploration
skills and technological expertise possessed by international majors.
Subscribers can access this report via this link http://www.moodys.com/viewresearchdoc.aspx?docid=PBC_161306
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Moody's: Regulatory and tax regime will continue to limit foreign investment in Russian oil and gas
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