|Russia and the CIS News Digest
Putin Commits Russia to 'Leadership in World Energy'
Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed a special session of his country's Security Council on Dec. 22, taking up the topic of "Russia's role in world energy security." He stressed the export of fossil fuels, especially Russia's position as #1 natural gas exporter in the world, and #2 oil exporter, but also the prospects for greater development of nuclear power. On the question of fossil fuels, Putin particularly emphasized the planned oil-export pipeline to the Pacific Ocean, which he said could be augmented by natural-gas-export lines in the same direction.
While the Baltic Sea floor gas-export pipeline, and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's joining its board, have grabbed headlines, Putin and the leadership of Gazprom, the majority state-owned natural-gas monopoly have been moving aggressively to capitalize on Russia's energy relations with other world powers, as well. On Dec. 13, Gazprom deputy chairman Alexander Medvedev announced at a Berlin press conference, that his company intends to achieve "more than 10% of the U.S. market share by 2010," increasing that to 20% soon thereafter. This goal would be achieved through liquid natural gas (LNG) exports.
Earlier in the fall, Alexander Medvedev accompanied Minister of Industry and Energy Victor Khristenko on a tour of the United States, to further this Gazprom goal. A related development was Russia's attempt to recruit former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans, a close and longtime friend of George W. Bush's, to serve as co-chairman of the board at the state-owned oil company, Rosneft. On Dec. 20, Evans declined the offer (citing family reasons, while praising Russia's commitment to meeting international standards for transparency and high-quality corporate management), which had been put to him by Putin personally. Putin, when queried about the Evans job offer on Dec. 16, said it was natural for Russia to seek top international managers, given that companies like the state-owned Rosneft are in the process of launching IPOs in international markets. Indeed, IPOs by Russian firms have been one of the hottest items on the London Stock Exchange this year.