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Russian gas giant Gazprom plans to cut hundreds of jobs at its trading and export divisions abroad and move trader jobs to St. Petersburg, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing two sources familiar with plan.
According to the Reuters sources, the decision to move jobs from overseas trading and marketing divisions—including from the UK—to Russia was made earlier this year, well before the spy poisoning scandal that plunged the UK and West’s relations with Russia to a new low. Former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned in the UK “by a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia,” UK Prime Minister Theresa May told Parliament earlier this week.
Gazprom’s plan to cut overseas jobs and create new jobs in St. Petersburg is part of a wider trend of Russian state–owned companies retreating from operations in the West, as part of a push of Russian President Vladimir Putin to repatriate capital to Russia to cut exposure to the Western sanctions and to bolster the domestic economy, one of the sources told Reuters.
“In Russia, this story can be sold as a job creation exercise on home turf. This is useful, especially ahead of the presidential election,” the source told Reuters.
Russia is holding a presidential election on March 18, which Putin is widely expected to overwhelmingly win.
Gazprom employs around 2,000 people at its overseas trading and export divisions, including some 1,000 staff in London.
Under the plan to cut overseas jobs, Gazprom will more than halve the traders positions abroad and hire the same number of people in St Petersburg, from where many trading operations will be executed, one of the sources told Reuters.
Gazprom Marketing & Trading is headquartered in London, with offices also in Manchester in the UK, as well as in Houston, Paris, Singapore, and Zug, Switzerland.
Last month, Gazprom said that it would reorganize the operational structure of its export activities, including marketing and trading, merging some of the trading subsidiaries into an Integrated International Marketing Division, but gave no details as to how employees at the overseas divisions would be affected.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.