ConocoPhillips Sues Russia’s Rosneft & Venezuela’s PDVSA for Fraud in CITGO Transfer

Rosneft“When China’s state-owned oil company CNOOC made an $18.5 billion bid for U.S. oil company Unocal in 2005, Unocal ended up having to accept a lower bid from ChevronTexaco after “political tensions,” notes Russ Dallen, who helped uncover and investigate the Rosneft lien.

“But even if a Trump administration that seems to regard Putin as a friend — despite the experiences of Bush and Obama — approves the transaction, more likely, as happened in 2006 when CFIUS approved the takeover of P&O (which owned and leased ports and terminals in the U.S.) by state-owned Dubai Ports World (DPW), Congress will move to block it. DPW ended up divesting P&O’s U.S. operations to American International Group after the furor,” Dallen notes.

The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) filing is used to protect creditors and let other potential creditors know that they have an interest in the asset.

In October, in addition to a 20% bonus, PDVSA used 50.1% of Citgo Holding Inc. as collateral to induce $2.8 billion of holders of PDVSA debt maturing within the year to extend into a new 4 year amortizing bond. As a result, should PDVSA default, the holders of the new $3.4 billion PDVSA 8.5% of 2020 would be able to take 50.1% of Citgo Holding Inc.

The Rosneft UCC filing meant that 100% of Citgo Holding is now encumbered and potentially at risk.


Rosneft is a minority shareholder in five joint crude oil-producing companies in Venezuela: Petro Miranda, Petro Victoria, Petro Perijá, Petro Monagas and Boquerón.

In 2010, Venezuela President Hugo Chavez sold PDVSA’s stakes in 4 Ruhr oil refineries in Germany to Rosneft for $1.6 billion, giving Rosneft a key foothold in the European market.

“Last week, Rosneft managed to gain control of the shares in Ruhr Oel that it did not yet own,” points out Dallen. “As a result, Rosneft is now the third largest refiner in Germany — an aggressive expansion by Rosneft that we are seeing all over the world.”

Founded in 1992, Rosneft became the world’s biggest oil and gas producer by volume (5.2 million barrels per day) through acquiring others. In 2004, Rosneft took over competitor Yukos after Vladimir Putin jailed Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky and in 2013 Rosneft took over TNK.

In 2014, Rosneft took over Bashneft after its owner, too, was arrested.

BP owns 19.75% and a consortium of mining and trading firm Glencore and the Qatar Investment Authority just paid Russia $11.3 billion for 19.5% of Rosneft. Another 10.75% floats on the Russian stock exchange.

The Russian government owns the remaining 50% of Rosneft, and Rosneft head Igor Sechin is a long-time ally and assistant to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In October, Rosneft acquired Indian refiner Essar Oil in a $13 billion deal. The transaction included India’s second-largest refinery at Vadinar (400,000 bpd), as well as port terminals, power plants and pumps.

Earlier this month, Rosneft acquired 30% of the Shourouk concession in Egypt and its supergiant offshore Zohr gas field from Italy’s Eni SPA for $1.575 billion.

And it is now the third largest refiner in Germany.
In spite of European and U.S. sanctions on Rosneft and its head Sechin over the annexation of Crimea, Dallen points out that Rosneft has made billions of dollars in overseas acquisitions this year in addition to raising billions from an equity sale to Glencore and Qatar.

“Even as sanctions against them continue to be renewed, it is clear that the Russians are using Rosneft to further Putin’s geopolitical ambitions,” says Dallen. “But will the U.S. government stand for a country with which we have an increasingly adversarial relationship owning strategic energy assets in the United States? It could be an early test for a Trump administration that has seemingly conflicting viewpoints and relationships with Russia.”

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