Exxon may be thinking that no pesky environmental group has a far enough reach to give them agita in the Russian arctic. In that sense, it’s certainly a lot safer than the Gulf of Mexico, where they are giving up holdings to the Russian state oil company in exchange for exploration rights to the arctic.
Now maybe its just my uber paranoid mind, but its my suspicion that Exxon is not only giving up some gulf oil because perhaps its future oil production is near peaking, but more sinister because they know that now that’s one less public relations liability they’ll have to deal with when the rigs bust, or are blamed for the floating lakes of oil that BP has been denying (As far as I know, Exxon is the most recent criminal against the environment with their under-reported leaking pipe problems in the Yellowstone region). I think Putin & friends has been “had” to put it in terms of the animal friendly Ace Ventura.
To go on with my paranoid thinking, you will see that Exxon has not only dumped on Russia, they are free to shit on them too… except when the USA wants to get on the toilet proper. Thus, things even bigger than Exxon come in to play, allowing them to play as a pawn as they have so often in the past (you could put it the other way around too). Russian control of something in the gulf of Mexico could be impetus for a new sort of cold war fear malaise to drive defense spending generally, galvanizing a variety of forces and feelings of nationalism in America, and raising the price of gasoline for Exxon and friends. This will occure because if/when that “Russian” oil rig in the gulf of Mexico breaks and spurts out generous king-kong sized portions of oil, Russia will be to blame, opening up a wide array of imperialistic choices to the United States and its minion/affiliate corporations. As the American public, and the world community too, will be generally distracted enough by the harms that Russia is causing to the Americas, it will be overlooked when Exxon spills even larger quantities of oil in its rampage in the arctic. It will be a mere cry from the wilderness when Russia and some environmentalists yell foul. Perhaps Russia wouldn’t even care, being that way up there is where they are used to sending their worst type of political prisoners.
Anyways, I think its safe to say that in this game, Russia is being pwned.