Eurasian Energy Briefs

by Roman Kupchinsky

China continued to forge closer energy ties with Turkmenistan. On June 25, 2009 the China Development Bank signed an agreement with Turkmengaz, the state-owned gas company, promising $4 billion in preferential loans for energy projects. Turkmengaz agreed to boost future gas deliveries to China by 33 percent, from 30 billion cubic meters (bcm) to 40 bcm annually. China National Petroleum is building the 7,000 kilometer (4,300 mile) Central Asia Gas gas pipeline from the Bagtyarlyk region of Turkmenistan that is scheduled to open this year.

Russian energy giant Gazprom began its annual stockholders meeting today in Moscow. On the agenda was the election of a new board of directors. The board is headed by first Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov and contains four Gazprom managers, including CEO Alexei Miller. Valery Musin , the former teacher of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev at St. Petersburg State University was elected to the board. Professor Musin is one of Russia’s leading international business law experts. He served as chief legal expert to the St. Petersburg Mayor’s Office Foreign Affairs Department headed at the time by Putin. His election strengthens Putin’s grip on Gazprom.

Ukraine’s Naftohaz refuted charges made by Gazprom’s Deputy CEO Alexander Medvedev on June 24, 2009 that storing Russian gas in Ukrainian underground facilities is risky and that Ukraine “stole” 8 billion cubic meters of Russian gas. After the press conference, Gazprom’s press center explained that Medvedev was referring to a dispute which took place in 2004-2005. In response to these charges, the Naftohaz press center stated that it is impossible for Ukraine to steal any Russian gas from its storage facilities because for the past 4 years no Russian gas has ever been stored in them. Furthermore, Naftohaz explained that according to the current contract there is no linkage between storage and the transit of Russian gas to Europe. Naftohaz did indeed offer to store Russian gas this year, but Gazprom refused the offer.