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Takeaway: As Hedgeye predicted last week, Congress will make fix for energy projects outside Russia but pipeline sanctions likely survive.

Editor's Note: Below is an excerpt from a research note published on 7/19 by Hedgeye Senior Energy Policy analyst Joseph McMonigle. To read this entire note email sales@hedgeye.com.

Congress Green Lights Energy Fix to Russia Sanctions Bill - green light 7 20 17

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced today that the House will fix a provision in the Senate Russia sanctions bill that would disadvantage US companies in affected projects outside of Russia.

Despite media reports that the House would quickly pass the Senate bill “as is,” we told Hedgeye clients in a July 10 note that “the House will rewrite language on expanded Russian energy sanctions.”

In an interview with Bloomberg today, McCarthy confirmed that “there’s ‘broad consensus’ among lawmakers from both parties to change that provision.” McCarthy also expected to add North Korea sanctions and other minor changes.

The Senate language contains a provision that will extend sanctions to US companies involved in projects outside of Russia where a Russian company is a partner or member of a consortium. Examples might be an offshore Africa project or an upstream project in Iraq.

Another more relevant example might be in Venezuela where the US is now considering energy sanctions in response to Maduro’s July 30 Constituent Assembly election. It’s possible that US sanctions may create an opening for an expanded role for Russia and Russian energy companies in the sector that under the Senate language could negatively impact US companies already operating in the country.

We think the Senate will go along with the fix and expect Congress will pass the sanctions legislation before the Congressional recess.

NordStream 2 Pipeline Sanctions

Another energy provision in the legislation involves pipelines and is attracting criticism from European countries and companies. This provision is aimed squarely at the NordStream 2 pipeline project and the legislation specifically cites US policy “to continue to oppose the NordStream 2 pipeline given its detrimental impacts on the European Union’s energy security, gas market development in Central and Eastern Europe, and energy reforms in Ukraine.”

European governments and companies are lobbying Congress to remove the provision but we think it is likely to remain in the House version.

Limiting Presidential Authority to Lift Sanctions via Speaker’s Objection

Finally, the big headline grabber of the Senate bill was a new provision that would limit the President’s ability to lift sanctions or provide waivers without Congressional approval.

While the White House wants to remove the language entirely, press reports indicate that the House may keep the language limiting Presidential authority but alter it to be operative via an objection only by the Speaker. The current Senate language allows any member of Congress to make an objection and start the process for a vote of disapproval.

Regardless of the outcome, we do not believe the Trump Administration will loosen current sanctions on Russia absent some major breakthrough on Ukraine. It is also worth noting that the Trump Treasury Department has denied a request by ExxonMobil for a waiver of Russia sanctions.