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Global Energy Advisory 22nd December 2017

Putin

While Washington was busy saber-rattling, Russia was busy deploying soft power to strengthen its hold on Venezuela. Russia’s Rosneft is expanding its presence in Venezuela: the company recently signed contracts for the development of two offshore gas blocks, with CEO Igor Sechin saying this is the first time Caracas has awarded a foreign company 100% of the exploration and operation rights to a hydrocarbons block. Under the terms of the contract, Rosneft will have the right to market overseas all the gas it extracts from the blocks.

The two blocks have combined reserves of 180 billion cubic meters, and Rosneft will develop them for 30 years. It is possible that the deals have something to do with the $6 billion Caracas owes the Russian company. Then again, it may be eager to allow one of its very few remaining allies to get something in return for agreeing to restructure a debt owed to Moscow that Caracas is finding it impossible to pay as per the original schedule.

In the same week as the Venezuela deal became public, Rosneft also said it had plans to start exporting natural gas to Europe. Naturally, this won’t be Venezuelan gas but the fact Rosneft is eyeing the European market is indication enough that whatever the EU thinks about Nord Stream 2 and Russian gas in general has very little to do with market realities, which come down to who will offer the lowest prices. For now, this is Russia and it would do the EU well to try and accelerate alternative…

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