Archive for the ‘Gazprom’ Category

Russia pushes an ‘OPEC’ for natural-gas nations

October 30, 2008

The nations with the world’s three biggest reserves of natural gas – Russia, Iran, and Qatar – are quietly moving ahead to form a “gas OPEC,” an organization modeled after the oil cartel.

By Fred Weir
The Christian Science Monitor
In Tehran last week, representatives of the Russian natural-gas monopoly Gazprom met with counterparts from Iran and Qatar and agreed to create “a big gas troika.” The group will meet quarterly to discuss pricing and supplies. Between them, these three countries hold an estimated 55 percent of known global gas reserves. The possibility of a cartel has long been opposed in Washington and European capitals.

The new cartel plan may be finalized Nov. 18, when Russia hosts a forum of gas-exporting countries in Moscow, including possible additions to the group such as Algeria, Indonesia, Libya, and Venezuela.

For Russia, which blames the US for causing the current global financial crisis and the attendant collapse of oil and other commodity prices, forging new energy-based international relationships holds political promise. “There is a clear desire in Moscow to work toward breaking what it perceives as US dominance of the world economy, but it’s way too soon to predict where this global crisis is leading,” says Masha Lipman, an expert with the Carnegie Center in Moscow. “If the US should really go into decline, I suppose we shall see new groups of states, and new contenders, come forward.”

As global energy prices plunge, cooperating with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to stabilize markets has gained fresh traction in the Kremlin while the long-discussed idea of creating a “gas OPEC” of leading producers is suddenly getting a big push from Moscow.

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NATO confronting new threats

April 2, 2008
By WILLIAM J. KOLE, Associated Press Writer

BUCHAREST, Romania – NATO‘s latest security worries go far beyond Taliban fighters or al-Qaida extremists: They include computer hackers, threats to global energy supplies and climate change profiteers.
World leaders gathered in Bucharest for this week’s NATO summit are debating what role the trans-Atlantic alliance can play in containing “cyberterrorists,” “hacktivists” and other emerging menaces that experts concede are untraditional, but still potentially lethal.

NATO needs to gear up for “iWar” — systematic attacks on the Web that could disrupt commerce worldwide by using crippling computer worms to shut down consumer online services such as Internet banking — warns Johnny Ryan, a researcher with the Institute of International and European Affairs.

“iWar will proliferate quickly and can be waged by anyone with an Internet connection,” Ryan cautioned in an analysis for NATO.

“In the short term, iWar poses a gathering threat to NATO members,” he said. “NATO must approach the problem as an immediate threat and strive to develop practical defensive cooperation.”

NATO member Estonia suffered a series of paralyzing and economically devastating cybercrime attacks last year that it blamed on Russia, which has denied involvement.

The attacks “raise questions about the alliance’s ability to protect its newest members,” said Stanley Kober, a research fellow at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank.

Securing vulnerable energy infrastructure may be an even more pressing concern, NATO officials said Wednesday as the summit got under way.

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has been pushing for a new “strategic concept” that would define the alliance’s role in dealing with the threat.

“Many of these challenges will not trigger a classical military response. But they will require allies to support each other — politically, economically, and perhaps also militarily,” de Hoop Scheffer told a security forum in Brussels, Belgium, last month.

His spokesman, James Appathurai, told reporters Wednesday that the 26 NATO allies hoped this week to lay the groundwork for a new blueprint on how to tackle evolving security challenges.

Energy has also become a worry for NATO as Russia tightens control of its most important natural gas fields. Gazprom, Russia’s state-controlled energy monopoly, controls key pipelines that supply gas to Western Europe.

The U.S. is prodding NATO to take a larger role in energy security — something Washington considers a major post-Cold War menace.

“I think there’s an increasing recognition in the United States that these are growing issues,” said Stephen Larrabee, a senior security analyst for the RAND Corp. think tank.

Climate change — already a major concern on a wide range of fronts — is starting to preoccupy NATO as well.

De Hoop Scheffer says the alliance may have to be ready to protect food and water supplies if global warming makes them scarce and tensions create enough economic or political instability to nudge nations to the brink of war.

EU foreign affairs chief Javier Solana gave a bleak assessment in a March 3 report warning that climate change threatens to undermine international security.

“It is important to recognize that the risks are not just of a humanitarian nature — they also include political and security risks that directly affect European interests,” the report says, warning: “Unmitigated climate change … will lead to unprecedented security scenarios.”

But any attempt to push the new threats to the forefront likely will run into resistance from allies pressing NATO to get back to basics, said Julianne Smith, Europe program director for the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“Many countries would like to see NATO return to its core mission,” she said. “I just find it hard to believe that NATO is going to be able to reach consensus on any of these issues.”

NATO’s core function is defined in its 1949 founding treaty, which states that all members will come to each others’ aid if any are attacked by an outside power.

Russia halves Ukraine supplies in mounting gas crisis

March 4, 2008
by Dario Thuburn 

MOSCOW (AFP) – Russia halved natural gas supplies to Ukraine on Tuesday and threatened further cuts in a debt dispute as the two countries slid towards a new gas war that has put Europe on alert.

A Russian oil worker operates the valve of a gas pipeline belonging ...
A Russian oil worker operates the valve of a gas pipeline belonging to Gazprom. Russia slashed natural gas supplies to Ukraine by half on Tuesday and threatened further cuts in a debt dispute as the two countries slid towards a new gas war that has put Europe on alert.
(AFP/File/Wojtek Lski)

Russia’s state gas monopoly Gazprom cut supplies by 25 percent of their normal level, doubling a 25 percent cut already in force since Monday, company spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said on state television.

“Negotiations are at a dead end,” Kupriyanov said on the Vesti-24 channel.

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Putin may become Gazprom chairman

December 21, 2007

MOSCOW (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin may become the next chairman of Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom when he steps down following a presidential election in March, Vedomosti business daily reported on Friday.
This image, supplied by Time magazine, shows Russian President ... 
Mr. Putin is “Time” “Person of The Year.”

The newspaper cited two sources close to Gazprom and one source close to first deputy prime minister and current Gazprom chairman Dmitry Medvedev, whom Putin has designated as a preferred candidate to succeed him.

Gazprom and the Kremlin declined immediate comments.

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Putin Attacks U.S. Even As “Time” Makes Him “Man of the Year”

Kremlinology 101 Redux

October 15, 2007

Paul Gregory
The Washington Times
October 15, 2007

Just when we thought we had things figured out, Russian President Vladimir Putin did the unexpected. He announced he would head the party list in the election and as such would surely be named prime minister by whoever his successor might be.

We had thought Mr. Putin would yield power to a successor, anointed by him but also approved by the KGB state, and retire to a lucrative sinecure, such as chief executive officer of Gazprom. It now appears he wishes to hold on to power, either as the head of revamped government or as a replacement for an aging president who somehow decides to step down in his favor. The consensus had been that his successor would be chosen by Russia-KGB Inc. It did not particularly matter if it was an obscure figure (as was Mr. Putin in 1999) or already known on the world stage. We now have to go back to the drawing board to figure this out. What do we know for sure?

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