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#9 - JRL 7008
pravda.ru
January 8, 2003
Battle for Russian Resources

As we witnessed at the end of 2002, the abrupt reduction of Russian oil export resulted in a catastrophic overstocking of the domestic market with oil products. As usual, the government also had its part in the crisis: oil export tariffs were increased. However, the tariffs are not the scariest thing in this situation. It is more awful that the natural advantages of Russia over the whole of the world mentioned by President Vladimir Putin are suddenly coming to the end.

This situation gives rise to an unbelievably tense competition on the Russian markets of raw stuff. A struggle of giants for undivided oil and gas fields is beginning.

Russian company Gazprom officially declares that supplies of handy natural gas have practically exhausted in the country. Development of new fields requires considerable investments. And Gazprom published its forecast, according to which oil and gas prices would increase 6-7 times within the nearest years.

The competition about the Talakansky oil and gas field is getting aggravated. The tender on the field is cancelled for the second time. The competition between private and state-run monopolies is deep and fierce. Oligarchs of Yeltsins epoch are complaining to the key lobbyist, Russian Minister of Energy Igor Yusufov and Vice-premier Viktor Khristenko. The Russian Ministry of Nature has started its attack at oligarchs, it actively supports the state-run monopolies.

The opposition becomes obvious once again during the privatization auction concerning the state-run oil company Slavneft. The auction demonstrated a sad result of the Russian reforms: no considerable changes have been made in the national economy since the year of 1996 when Svyazinvest was privatized. The winner of the Slavneft auction was known beforehand, and the state authorities did their best to debar potential rivals from participation in the auction.

A political resource, a resolution of the RF State Duma, was even employed for forcing the Chinese state-run oil company CNPC out of participation in the auction. A company affiliated with the state-run company Rosneft, which against the security of Rosneft accumulated private funds for Slavneft privatization, was debarred from participation in the privatization just several hours before the auction.

Despite warnings of several high-ranking governmental officials, Rosneft President Sergey Bogdanchikov is going to appeal to court against the results of the auction. However, it is not clear yet who were the private investors who provided spare 3 billion dollars (against the security of Rosneft) to purchase Slavneft. The results of the Slavneft privatization are vague as well.

Dmitry Slobodanuk
PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva

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