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US Treasury rejects Exxon Mobil request to drill in Russia

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has rejected a request from Exxon Mobil to waive U.S. sanctions against Russia to allow the company to resume oil drilling near the Black Sea.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday in a brief statement that the administration “will not be issuing waivers to U.S. companies, including Exxon, authorizing drilling prohibited by current Russian sanctions.”

Exxon said it understood the decision, while suggesting that the outcome will merely help European oil companies operating under less-stringent restrictions.

The decision comes just two days after it was reported that Exxon was seeking a waiver to resume a joint venture with Rosneft, a Russian state-owned oil company. Exxon said it filed the request in 2015.

The disclosure of Exxon’s application was criticized in Congress by lawmakers who said the Trump administration should not reduce sanctions after U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia interfered in last year’s presidential election. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., tweeted of Exxon’s request, “Are they crazy?”