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Gazproms Monopoly On Exports Backed by Duma

Published: July 7, 2006 (Issue # 1184)


MOSCOW The State Duma overwhelmingly approved a bill Wednesday formalizing Gazproms monopoly over gas exports, defying EU calls for liberalization on the eve of the Group of Eight summit.

The legislation is likely to exacerbate tensions between Russia and the European Union. Energy security is expected to top the G8 agenda in St. Petersburg.

The principle of a unified export channel has always been part of our export strategy, though it hasnt been set out in any normative documents or legislation, Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said. Now it will become the law.

Besides cementing Gazproms role as Russias sole natural gas exporter, the law extends the companys export monopoly to liquefied natural gas, or LNG, and liquefied petroleum gas.

While Russia does not produce LNG for now, it will begin doing so in the near future, as the Sakhalin Island and Shtokman gas fields come on line.

The sole exception to the new bill allows non-Gazprom gas exports from companies that hold production sharing agreements, or PSAs, with the Russian government. Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil hold PSAs from the 1990s at the Sakhalin-1 and Sakhalin-2 fields.

The EU, rattled by drops in Russian gas shipments during Gazproms January price dispute with Ukraine, has pushed Russia to break up Gazproms export monopoly and ratify the Energy Charter Treaty, which mandates that signatories hew to market-based principles in energy investment and transit.

Russia seems to have hardened its stance against both the Energy Charter Treaty and breaking up the monopoly in recent months, paving the way for renewed conflicts at next weeks summit.

The new bill proceeds from the necessity of defending Russias economic interests, fulfilling international gas export obligations, securing federal budget revenues and supporting Russias energy balance, Interfax reported Wednesday, citing the text of the bill.

A virtual whos-who of Russian energy companies unsuccessfully lobbied to restrict the bills scope after it was introduced in the Duma in early June.

Vladimir Volubyov, a spokesman for joint Russian-British energy company TNK-BP, said his company sent its proposals to the Dumas Energy Committee along with those from oil companies LUKoil and Rosneft, and independent gas producers Itera and Novatek but that they were rejected without explanation.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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