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Rosneft - an oil well near the Kremlin

Dirk Kaufmann
September 29, 2017

Who or what is Rosneft? The Russian oil firm, in whose board former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has taken up a post, enjoys close ties to the Kremlin - financially, personally and geographically.

Russland Wirtschaft Rosneft Logo Schild Hauptsitz in Moskau Rosneft kauft TNK-BP
Image: dapd

If you look at the city of Moscow from the Kremlin, you will see - among other representative buildings - a dome-crowned palace, which serves as the headquarters of the Russian oil behemoth Rosneft.

Likewise, the company's employees have an unobstructed view of the seat of the Russian government, a major shareholder in the firm. JSC Rosneftegaz, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Russian Federation, holds half of Rosneft's shares. 

The British petroleum company BP is the second-largest shareholder, owning some 19.75 percent stake in the firm. The Anglo-Swiss commodity trader Glencore, together with Qatar's state investment fund, holds an additional 19.50 percent of the shares.

Read more: The Rosneft seat and Gerhard Schröder's Kremlin credentials

The National Settlement Depositary (NSD), a member of the Moscow stock exchange group, owns another 10.73 percent of the shares. NSD administers Russia's state investments.

Critical for the country

Rosneft is in the business of oil exploration and production; its approximately 260,000 employees worldwide generated sales of around €75 billion ($88.5 billion) in 2015.

Russland Moskau
A view of the headquarters of Rosneft, the Dome of the Church of St Nicholas (front), the bell tower of the Seeking of the Lost Church and the construction site of Zarydya ParkImage: picture-alliance/dpa/Tass/S. Savostyanov

Together with the internationally renowned competitor Gazprom, which also has its headquarters in Moscow and had an annual revenue of €57 billion in 2014, Rosneft forms the backbone of the Russian petroleum industry.

Read more: Gerhard Schröder insists Rosneft job 'not a problem'

The firms are critically important for the nation's economy, which relies heavily on the export of natural resources, including hydrocarbons.

Active worldwide

Rosneft, of course, is not a local player. On the contrary, the company is a leading actor in oil refining in Russia and is also active in a number of countries, including Venezuela, Cuba, Canada, the US, Brazil, Norway, Italy, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, China, Vietnam and others.   

Rosneft is also present in Germany. The company claims it ranks third in the EU's economic powerhouse when it comes to the processing of petroleum products. The firm refines over 12 million tons of crude oil destined for the German market, equivalent to a market share of about 12 percent.

Russland Rosneft-Vorsitzende Igor Sechin
Rosneft head Igor Sechin is regarded as one of the most powerful men in RussiaImage: imago/ITAR-TASS/M. Metzel

Always close to the powerful

Gazprom and Rosneft not only operate in the same domain, namely oil and gas, but also have a similar ownership structure. The two firms also enjoy close ties to the Russian state. Gazprom's head is Alexei Borisovich Miller. Similar to President Vladimir Putin, Miller comes from Saint Petersburg. Their relationship dates back a long time and Miller has worked closely with the Russian leader since the days when Putin served as deputy mayor of Saint Petersburg. To this day, Miller is considered to be a close confidant of the president.

Read more: Lobbyists and politicians: What are the regulations?

Rosneft is headed by Igor Ivanovich Sechin. He is also from Saint Petersburg and served as Putin's adviser until 2008. Until May 2012, he was deputy prime minister of Russia and sat in Putin's cabinet. Sechin has been serving as head of Rosneft since his appointment in 2004.