(Adds quotes, background)
ST PETERSBURG, Russia May 23 Igor Sechin, the
head of Russia's top oil producer Rosneft, on Friday
dismissed a report that U.S. major ExxonMobil might
leave the Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project.
"I didn't hear about it... But I don't think that an oil
company may just easily leave an operating project which is
producing ... It is just unreal... I think this is just
rumours," Sechin told reporters.
Last week, Russian state news agency ITAR TASS quoted a
Sakhalin region source as saying Exxon might leave the project
and local authorities would buy its stake. That report was
denied by Exxon.
The United States and the European Union have imposed
sanctions on some Russian individuals and entities following
Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in March.
The individuals include Sechin, a close ally of President
Vladimir Putin, whose Rosneft co-owns the Sakhalin-1 project,
which produced 7 million tonnes of oil - 140,000 barrels per day
- last year.
ExxonMobil holds a 30 percent stake in Sakhalin-1, Japan's
Sodeco consortium has 30 percent, India's ONGC holds 20 percent
and the rest is controlled by Rosneft.
(Reporting by Katya Golubkova and Dmitri Zhdannikov; Writing by
Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Lidia Kelly and Mark Potter)