Russian state-owned oil and gas major Gazprom has acquired a 27.5% stake in Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) producer Sakhalin Energy for approximately $1bn (Rbs91.89bn), according to a government order.

The stake was previously held by oil giant Shell, before the company announced in 2022 that it would be exiting the Russian oil and gas business, including its joint ventures with Gazprom, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February that year. After the announcement, Shell booked a $1.6bn impairment in the first quarter of 2022.

The Russian Government said on Monday that the 27.5% stake in Sakhalin Energy is due to be sold to a company called Sakhalin Project for $1.02bn, Reuters reports. The government also officially nullified an order from one year ago that set up a sale of Shell’s stake to Novatek, Russia’s second-biggest oil and gas producer after Gazprom.

“No reason was given for this switch in buyers, but some commentators speculated that Novatek may have assessed the legal risk to be too high,” Moscow-based BCS brokerage said in a note.

In November, the US Government expanded sanctions against Moscow in a bid to further limit Russia’s income from its energy supply. New measures included fresh sanctions against the Novatek-led Arctic LNG 2 project.

“We cannot comment on matters relating to the Russian Federal Government’s Decree process. Shell reserves all its legal rights relating to its 27.5% (minus one share) interest in Sakhalin Energy Investment Company Ltd (SEIC). We have no further comment,” Shell told Reuters.

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Currently, Gazprom owns a 50% stake in Sakhalin Energy. Other major investors are Japanese companies Mitsui, which owns 12.5%, and Mitsubishi with a 10% share.

In November, Gazprom announced plans to cut investment by one fifth this year after its gas exports continued to decline amid ongoing sanctions and import cuts from Europe and the US.