Monday, January 01, 2007

Russia Plays Hardball with Gazprom Gas Pipeline

Russia is maximizing profits and manipulating foreign policy with its huge natural gas resources and massive gas pipeline system. Russia is leveraging its natural gas power with European Union countries and its former Soviet Union states. Russia has promised its investors maximum profits by raising rates. Gazprom is the world's 4th largest company.

Gazprom bought a majority stake in Shell's Sakhalin 2 liquefied natural gas development in Russia's Far East for7.25 billion. Critiecs say it was a nationalization. Mitsui & Co and Mitsubishi Corp are Shell's partners in Sakhalin 2.

Gazprom has increased prices on countries that it is at odds with, like Georgia (separatist) and Ukrain (pro-Western). It is also increasing prices on its ally Belarus. The price is being raised from $47 per 1,000 cubic meters to $105. Gazprom also wasts a 50 percent ownership stake in Belarus' national gas company, Beltransgaz. Belarus does not want the partnership. (NYT 12/30/06, Wall St Journal 1/2/07)

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