April 24, 2024

Halliburton equipment worth $7.1m exported to Russia in past year, customs records show | Halliburton

US oil and gas multinationals are facing fresh questions over their trade with Russia after customs records revealed that more than $7.1m (£5.7m) worth of equipment manufactured by Halliburton has been exported into the country since it announced the end of its Russian operations.

Last September Halliburton, one of the world’s largest providers of products and services for oil and gas exploration, sold its Russian office to local management amid pressure on all US companies to cease their trade after the invasion of Ukraine.

Russian customs records seen by the Guardian show that despite this move to sell up on 8 September, Halliburton subsidiaries exported equipment of a value of $5,729,600 to its former operation in Russia in the six weeks that followed the sale.

The equipment was largely shipped from the US and Singapore although the records show it originated in a range of countries, including the UK, Belgium and France.

The bulk of exports from the subsidiaries ended on 6 October but the last shipment to Russia from a Halliburton company, recorded as Halliburton MFG in the records, was of a sealing element priced at $2,939.40 on 24 October 2022 from Malaysia to a firm called Sakhalin Energy, a consortium that is developing the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project in eastern Russian. Its investors include Gazprom. Shell disinvested from the consortium after the invasion of Ukraine.

After a short pause, imports of Halliburton equipment to Russia then resumed in December 2022 from two companies unrelated to the US multinational.

The products were imported from Turkey, bringing the total value of exports of Halliburton equipment to Russia since the company closed its operations to at least $7,163,317.

Of all the exports to Russia made since last September, 98% were supplied to Halliburton’s newly independent former operation, known as BurService, whose clients have included Gazprom, Rosneft, TNK-BP and Lukoil.

According to customs records, exports to Russia of Halliburton equipment, which range in type from pumps, to wrenches for the drilling of wells, and cement additives, continued until at least the end of June this year. More recent records are yet to be made available.

There is exasperation in Ukraine at the lethargy of many large industrial players in the west in extracting themselves from the Russian economy.

The findings illustrate the difficulties multinational companies have had in unpicking their trading relationships and in controlling the distribution of their products via third parties.

Some of the world’s largest US oil and gas field service companies are already facing questions over their conduct. The Kremlin is heavily dependent on its oil and gas sector for the revenue that funds its military.

Earlier this month, the head of the US Senate foreign relations committee, Bob Menendez, wrote to Halliburton and their competitors SLB and Baker Hughes, after reports that the companies had continued to trade with Russia to various degrees after the invasion of Ukraine in February last year.

Menendez, in letters to the chief executives of the three companies, said he was “extremely disturbed” by an AP report that sales had continued in 2022. He accused the management of seeking to “make a profit” rather stand 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 working in Russia, announced only in July this year that it would stop exporting technology to Russia.

There is no suggestion that any of the companies breached the sanctions regime of the US or its western partners.

It is understood that the sale date of Halliburton’s operations in Russia was not fixed until late in the day, which may account for those shipments from its subsidiaries that left for the country shortly before and soon after 8 September.

A spokesperson for Halliburton said: “Halliburton was the first major oilfield services company to exit Russia, in full compliance with sanctions. It has been more than a year since we have conducted operations there.

“Halliburton wound down its Russia operations and completed the sale of its Russia business in less than six months while prioritising safety and securing the necessary government approvals, including for shipments to Russia. Halliburton no longer conducts operations in Russia.”

Halliburton, which was led by the former US vice-president Dick Cheney, posted a gross profit for the 12 months ending 30 June 2023 of $4.052bn, a 63.19% increase year-on-year despite writing off $300m on the sale of the Russian operation.

Glib Kanevskyi, chief executive of the Kyiv-based thinktank StateWatch, said that western governments needed to do more to persuade their large companies to better control the distribution of products which could be useful to the Russian economy.

He added that companies such as Halliburton should be encouraged to be transparent about how they are ensuring their products are being kept out of the Russian market.

Kanevskyi said: “When we talk about the Halliburton case, we need to understand that it cannot be effective if, for example, the USA or other countries will try to punish some company involved in this scheme to ship Halliburton equipment to Russia. It cannot be effective in my opinion.

“If the international community will collaborate and involve businesses then it can be helpful. It’s not easy. What countries can do today is dialogue with its own businesses. If we talk about Halliburton it is a serious player in the world and the US government can have a conversation with it and see how it can better control its distribution process”.

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