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Russian Oil Companies Propose to Mine Cryptocurrencies at Their Wells

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Lubomir Tassev

Companies involved in oil production in Russia have come up with a project to organize the mining of cryptocurrencies right next to the oil fields they are exploiting. Data centers devoted to coin minting can be powered by the excess gas released during oil extraction which would otherwise be wasted.

Ministries and Central Bank Review Crypto Mining Project by Russian Oil Industry

Government institutions in Moscow are now discussing an initiative launched by Russia’s oil companies to start mining cryptocurrency at their extraction sites. The industry is proposing to utilize associated petroleum gas (APG) to generate electricity that can be used in the energy-intensive process of digital coin minting.

Experts say the project can potentially attract foreign investors, primarily from China where authorities have been cracking down on bitcoin mining this year. The industrial activity is effectively banned in the People’s Republic while in the Russian Federation mining isn’t prohibited although it is not properly regulated either.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has recently asked the Ministry of Digital Development and the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) for their feedback on the idea, Russia’s leading business daily Kommersant reported, quoting a letter sent by the Deputy Minister of Industry Vasiliy Shpak. His department asks the monetary authority in particular whether this would be a legitimate undertaking.

The main act regulating cryptocurrencies in Russia is the law “On Digital Financial Assets” which went into force earlier this year. Additional legislation is needed, however, regarding their circulation in Russia and related operations. The legalization of crypto mining as an industrial activity has been gaining support in government circles with the chairman of the parliamentary Financial Market Committee, Anatoly Aksakov, stating in September that it should be registered as such and taxed accordingly.

Kommersant also quotes a source close to the Ministry of Industry who revealed that one of the large Russian oil companies already has a crypto mining project underway and would like to scale it up. “But this segment is in a legally gray zone and the company fears a negative reaction from the central bank, so it turned to the Ministry [of Industry] which can discuss the risks with the regulator,” the knowledgeable person told the newspaper.

According to available official information, so far only the state-run Gazprom Neft, a subsidiary of Russian energy giant Gazprom and third-largest oil producer in the country, has an actual mining project. The company launched it at its oil field in Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug, a region in Tyumen Oblast. According to a report from January, the oil giant managed to mint 1.8 BTC in a month. Gazprom Neft declined to comment on the matter.

Do you think authorities in Moscow will allow Russian oil companies to mine cryptocurrencies at their oil wells? Tell us in the comments section below.

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