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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

Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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