Let's face it: Instead of focusing primarily on the athletes and what could be a great upcoming Winter Olympics to be held in Sochi, Russia, much of the recent media headlines are instead laser-focused on the "potential" for a terrorist plan that could be carried out by suicide bombers. So above anything else, the safety of all participants, spectators and locals in Sochi should be paramount.
With that said, Russia is in dire need for foreign direct investment (FDI) to help its tired energy sector, a sector that has not seen the necessary funds to modernize to meet today's demands. That means Russian oil companies such as Rosneft and Gazprom (NASDAQOTH:OGZPY) also stand to either medal or not based on the security of Sochi next month.
Take ConocoPhillps (NYSE:COP) for instance, which has sold its roughly 20% stake in Lukoil in 2012. Although, it remains a 50% partner on Rosneft's Polar Lights Venture, an oilfield project just outside of Moscow. ConocoPhillips is not the only US oil giant in Russia though.
In what was perhaps a sign of willingness to go anywhere to boost oil production, ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM), which through its Exxon Neftegas subsidiary, operates and owns 30% of one of the largest FDI spending projects in Russia (the upstream Sakhalin-1 in Far East Russia), also announced a few weeks back a new JV with Rosneft to explore for a massive oil find in the Arctic Ocean. It also now has plans to drill horizontal wells and boost flow from older wells in Western Siberia. So if anything God forbid happens in Sochi, ExxonMobil's recent expansion into Russia may come into question by investors uneasy about the company's commitment to the region despite political frailty currently between the U.S. and Russian governments.
Also, any issues that result from the lack of security in Sochi, may also help boost the speed of the shale revolution in Europe, a continent that has been relying a lot on Russia's exported gas for energy. If that latter scenario does unfold post Sochi, companies like Chevron (NYSE:CVX) and Royal Dutch Shell could be big beneficiaries from any move to more quickly develop shale assets in the region. Keep in mind that Chevron signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in late 2013 with Poland's state-run gas firm PCNiG to develop shale gas from Poland's south-eastern locale. This is potentially a very big move for Chevron considering Poland does get much of it's gas from Russia.
One company that could make more headlines that the Sochi Olympics in 2014