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September 26th, 2006

Снова Сахалин

Аналогия между происходящим с сахалинскими проектами и делом ЮКОСА пришла в голову не только мне. Вот что пишет Экономист.

YUKOS REVISITED?
Sep 21st 2006

Russia must stop strong-arming foreign investors

IT IS natural to be miffed when a deal that seemed shrewd turns out
worse than you thought. It is especially galling if it involves a
prized asset. The civilised response--if the other party is disinclined
to renegotiate--is to shrug and move on. But with the gigantic energy
developments on Sakhalin Island, the Kremlin prefers to bully its
partners into surrender.

Sakhalin and the seas around it host the two biggest foreign
investments in Russia, which are also two of the world's biggest energy
projects. Led by Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell, the consortia
signed "production-sharing agreements" (PSAs) with the Russian
government in the 1990s to insure against unpredictable legal changes;
another PSA applies to an Arctic development led by Total, of France.
Sakhalin has other ominous peculiarities. The Shell consortium is
building Russia's first liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant, to serve
markets in North America, South Korea and Japan. It is the only big
energy scheme without a Russian partner. The projects are also the only
exceptions to Gazprom's gas-export monopoly--staunchly defended by both
the state-controlled gas giant and the Kremlin against European efforts
to break it up.

In other words, Sakhalin is potentially crucial in the Kremlin's drive
to recapture its geopolitical clout using energy wealth. Hardly
surprising, then, that its state-controlled energy firms want pieces of
the island action. Opportunities for foreign firms in energy--the "holy
of holies" of the economy, as Vladimir Putin puts it--are now tightly
circumscribed. Using Gazprom and Rosneft, a state-controlled oil firm,
the Kremlin has recaptured its stewardship of the industry. PSAs were
controversial even when they were signed, amid low oil prices and a
scarcity of foreign capital and expertise; now that Russia is flush, to
some officials they look downright humiliating. (An enormous cost
overrun at Shell's Sakhalin project, which will massively reduce the
state's share of the profits, has bolstered this conviction.) Other
countries, Kremlin apologists point out, have redrafted energy deals as
the oil price has risen.

GAZPROMISE
But none of that makes Russia's behaviour right. The Kremlin has opted
for intimidation rather than negotiation. This week, the government
revoked an environmental approval that may halt the Shell-led
consortium's work--to the ire of Japan, which has already bought much
of the anticipated LNG; Japanese companies also own 45% of the
enterprise. There are legitimate environmental gripes with the scheme;
but the move seems more related to Gazprom's efforts to barge its way
in. Rosneft already has a minority stake in the Exxon consortium, but
the Americans have also been the subject of threatening murmurs, as has
Total. The Kremlin evidently believes the benefits of this
strong-arming outweigh the risks. Global energy reserves being
distributed as they are, foreign oil majors will surely take whatever
terms Russia offers; anyway, some Russians believe, business always is
a grubby affair.

The Kremlin should think again. For all its swagger, Russia still
needs outside participation in its energy industry. With Russia looking
to raise more than $20 billion from investors in listings in the next
18 months, other parts of the economy need foreign investment even
more. Russia's reputation is still recovering from the Kremlin's last
backdoor appropriation--the renationalisation of much of Yukos. To
sustain that recovery, the Kremlin needs to be more civilised over
Sakhalin.

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