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Even as tensions in Ukraine ease with Russian President Vladimir Putin asserting that military intervention is not on the cards and force will be used only as a last resort, the confrontation between Moscow and the West – the most serious since the end of the Cold War – has captivated world energy markets.  

In particular, Russia’s bloodless seizure of border posts in Ukraine’s Crimea not only threatens to derail hydrocarbon deliveries bound for Europe but also disrupt oil/gas exploration in the region. This could translate into big uncertainties for major energy firms in a market that contains 25% of the global natural gas reserves.   

Let's take a closer look at how the Ukraine crisis will play out for big energy companies:

British major BP plc (BP - Analyst Report) is the highest stakeholder with just under 20% interest in Russian energy giant Rosneft, which is responsible for a third of BP’s output. In case of any Western sanctions against Russia, the London-based group will be hit hard. On the other hand, the company’s 30%-owned Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline may gain from the turmoil, as it transports oil from the Caspian Sea via Georgia and Turkey to the Mediterranean — a detour that avoids Ukraine.

U.S. behemoth Chevron Corp. (CVX - Analyst Report) is also heavily involved in the eastern European country and has recently signed a $10 billion 50-year shale gas production-sharing agreement. A potential Russian takeover of Ukraine will be a major dampener to the deal.

Last but not least, oilfield service providers like Halliburton Co. (HAL - Analyst Report), Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI - Analyst Report) and Weatherford International Ltd. (WFT - Analyst Report) are all established players in Russia and any trade embargo against the country over its actions in Ukraine may land their investments in jeopardy.

Among the companies mentioned above, while Halliburton carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell), the remaining entities retain a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Any intensification/dilution of the Ukraine conflict will guide the brokerage analysts to downgrade/upgrade their forecasts on these players, leading to negative/positive estimate revisions and the subsequent change in their Zacks Ranks.

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