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Kremlin declines to comment on media reports about licenses for Crimean shelf

A Russian newspaper reported earlier that a little-known oil and gas player has received a license for oil and gas exploration and production on the Crimean shelf

MOSCOW, March 6. /TASS/. Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on Kommersant article about a little-known oil industry company that obtained a license to develop the Crimean shelf.

"I recommend asking the government for a comment on the matter. This question is under the government supervision, the relevant decrees were issued by the Russian government," he told reporters.

Kommersant reported earlier that a little-known oil and gas player, Novye Proekty, has received a Russian license for oil and gas exploration and production on the Crimean shelf. According to the newspaper, entrepreneur Anton Dornostup is the company’s chief owner, according to official information, close to the family of the former Head of Russia’s Federal Agency for Subsoil Use Valery Pak, although a number of Kommersant sources associate Novye Proekty with Ukrainian businessman Sergey Kurchenko.

According to the official legal information website, in June 2016, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev gave the green light to issue companies a license to develop this area for 30 years. According to Kommersant, Novye Proekty company has to drill an exploration well within the next 8 years. The Ministry of Natural Resources declined to comment on the matter.

Private companies working on this shelf is surprising, as only state companies are legally allowed to work on the area. At the same time, according the newspaper, Novye Proekty obtained the license under a simplified procedure for Crimea, and in 2015, the company did not have any assets and did not conduct business operations.

"When the law regarding Crimea was adopted in an expedited manner, it is possible that the company without assets could pass because of the simplified procedure, which in a general procedure would not be possible," partner at Goltsblat BLP law firm Rustam Kurmaev told the newspaper.