US multinational oil and gas companies are facing fresh questions about their trade with Russia after customs records revealed that more than $7.1m (£5.7m) worth of equipment made by Halliburton had been imported into the country since which announced the end of its Russian operations.
Last September, Halliburton, one of the world’s largest providers of oil and gas exploration products and services, sold its Russian office to local management amid pressure on all US companies to stop doing business after the invasion of Ukraine.
Russian customs records seen by the Guardian show that despite the move to sell on September 8, Halliburton’s subsidiaries exported $5,729,600 worth of equipment to its former operation in Russia in the six weeks following the sale.
The equipment was largely shipped from the US and Singapore, although records show it came from a number of countries, including the UK, Belgium and France.
The bulk of exports from subsidiaries ended on October 6, but the last shipment to Russia from Halliburton, recorded as Halliburton MFG, was of sealing element for $2,939.40 on October 24, 2022 from Malaysia to Sakhalin Energy. , a consortium developing the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project in eastern Russia. Its investors include Gazprom. Shell withdrew investments from the consortium after the invasion of Ukraine.
After a short hiatus, imports of Halliburton equipment to Russia from two companies unrelated to the American multinational resumed in December 2022.
The products were imported from Turkey, bringing the total value of Halliburton’s equipment exports to Russia since the company closed its operations to at least $7,163,317.
Of all exports to Russia since last September, 98% have been delivered to the newly independent former Halliburton operation known as BurService, whose clients include Gazprom, Rosneft, TNK-BP and Lukoil.
According to customs records, exports of Halliburton equipment to Russia, ranging from pumps to well-drilling keys to cement additives, continued at least until the end of June this year. Newer records are not yet available.
Ukraine is irritated by the lethargy of many large industrial players in the west, which are pulling out of the Russian economy.
The findings illustrate the difficulties multinationals have faced in unbundling their business relationships and controlling the distribution of their products through third parties.
Some of the world’s largest oil and gas services companies are already facing questions about their conduct. The Kremlin is heavily dependent on its oil and gas sector for revenue that funds its military.
Earlier this month, the head of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Menendez, wrote to Halliburton and its competitors SLB and Baker Hughes after the companies continued to do business with Russia to varying degrees following the invasion of Ukraine last February. year.
In letters to the CEOs of the three companies, Menendez said he was “extremely concerned” by the AP report that the 2022 sales continued. He accused the leadership of trying to “make a profit”, rather it is in solidarity with Ukraine.
Baker Hughes sold its oilfield services business in Russia nine months after the invasion. SLB, which reportedly had 9,000 employees in Russia, only announced in July this year that it would stop exporting technology to Russia.
There is no indication that either company has violated the sanctions regime of the US or its Western partners.
It is understood that the date for the sale of Halliburton’s Russian operations was not set until late in the day, which may correspond to those shipments from its subsidiaries that left for the country shortly before and soon after September 8.
A spokesman for Halliburton said: “Halliburton was the first major oilfield services company to leave Russia in full compliance with sanctions. It’s been over a year since we’ve been operating there.
“Halliburton ended its operations in Russia and completed the sale of its Russian business in less than six months, prioritizing security and securing the necessary government approvals, including shipments to Russia. Halliburton no longer has operations in Russia.
Halliburton, which was led by former US Vice President Dick Cheney, reported gross profit of $4.052 billion for the 12 months ended June 30, 2023, up 63.19% year-on-year, despite writing off $300 million from the sale of the Russian operation.
Glib Kanevskyi, executive director of the Kyiv-based think tank StateWatch, said Western governments must do more to persuade their big companies to better control the distribution of products that could be useful to the Russian economy.
He added that companies like Halliburton should be encouraged to be transparent about how they keep their products out of the Russian market.
Kanevskyi said: “When we talk about the Halliburton case, we must understand that it cannot be effective if, for example, the US or other countries try to punish some company involved in this scheme of sending Halliburton equipment to Russia. In my opinion, it cannot be effective.
“If the international community works together and gets businesses involved, it can be helpful. It is not easy. What countries can do today is dialogue with their own businesses. If we are talking about Halliburton, they are a serious player in the world and the US government can talk to them and see how they can better control their distribution process.