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Stockholm Arbitration does not comment on Exxon Mobil claim against Russia

April 02, 2015, 13:30 UTC+3 STOCKHOLM

The companies want the issue to remain unknown to the public

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STOCKHOLM, April 2. /TASS/. The Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce does not confirm or deny the information on Exxon Mobil's claim on settling a dispute with Russia's Energy Ministry, the Court representatives told TASS Thursday.

"We can neither confirm nor deny the information on the claim, as these issues are strictly confidential and any corresponding information remains within the walls of our institute. The companies want the issue to remain unknown to the public," the representative said.

The Arbitration Institute is an independent division of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce. Its board consists of six Swedish and six foreign experts in the field of international arbitration.

According to the Stockholm arbitration regulations, unless parties agreed otherwise, the dispute is settled by three judges, but the court may also make a decision with only one judge. The parties must agree on the place of arbitration proceedings, as well as on the laws or rules of law to be applied in resolving the dispute.

"The average time for complaint consideration in our court is from 6 months to a year. However, in cases of large disputes, for example, investment affairs, a decision can be made after 2 or 3 years," the court explained.

The arbitration court decision is final and is obligatory for both parties. It also cannot be challenged in court.

Earlier, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak told Vedomosti newspaper that Exxon Mobil informed the Russian Energy Ministry on Monday, March 30 about lodging a claim to the Stockholm arbitration requiring changing the interpretation of the Sakhalin-1 project Production-Sharing Agreement (PSA) paragraph on taxes.

ExxonMobil believes its subsidiary Exxon Neftegas Limited overpaid approximately $500 mln profit taxes on its Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project.

At the time of the PSA signing in the mid-1990s profit tax of 35% was imposed in Russia. Russia reduced the profit tax in 2009 to 20%, but ExxonMobil continued to pay at the earlier level of 35%, although it applies to the Finance Ministry with a request to lower the rate. According to the newspaper, Russia believes that PSA terms are not subject to change within its period of validity.

According to the newspaper, Russia is preparing its propositions and hopes for out of court settlement of the issue.

Earlier in March ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson came to Moscow for talks. Tillerson met with Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, Energy Minister Alexander Novak, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, and twice with the Executive Chairman of Rosneft Igor Sechin. As media reported, the officials listened to ExxonMobil arguments, but failed to come to an agreement. The issue will be further discussed by the Russian Government.

ExxonMobil is the Sakhalin-1 project’s operator, 30% belong to the Japanese Sodeco, Rosneft and the Indian ONGC own 20% stake each.

In 2013, the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce reviewed 183 cases, 49% of which were related to Swedish companies, 61% - to international companies from 36 countries. Russia was one of the parties in 26 disputes. UK companies also often applied to the Court (10 cases), as well as China (9 cases), Germany (9 cases), France (8 cases), Ukraine (7 cases).

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