A Corruption Trial Splits the Kremlin; The former economy minister got caught in a sting, and no one knows where Putin stands.

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Evgenia Pismennaya, Ilya Arkhipov, Henry Meyer, Irina Reznik – October 11, 2017) The first prosecution of a minister for graft under Russian President Vladimir Putin contains the kind of details you’d expect in a spy novel, from hidden microphones and coded hand signals to homemade sausages and a bag stuffed with cash. The case against former […]

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NEWSWATCH: “OPEC Pushes Russia to Continue Helping on Oil Prices” – Wall Street Journal/ Benoit Faucon, Summer Said, Nathan Hodge

File Photo of King Salman of Saudi Arabia Seated Next to Saudi Flag and Gesturing, adapted from image at defense.gov

As King Salman becomes the first Saudi Monarch to visit Moscow, The Wall Street Journal reports on efforts by OPEC to keep Russia in an ad hoc coalition to suppress global oil production. “Saudi Arabia and OPEC are lobbying Russia to stay on board with their efforts to raise oil prices, amid signals that Moscow wants to end its participation in costly […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Corruption Case Puts Sechin in the Spotlight” – Carnegie Moscow Center/ Konstantin Gaaze

Igor Sechin file photo

“The high-profile trial of former Russian economy minister Alexei Ulyukayev is not playing out according to the script that most analysts had expected. The prosecution’s case increasingly relies on the testimony of one man, state oil chief Igor Sechin, making this master of Kremlin intrigue potentially politically vulnerable. The powerful reputation of the official said to be Russia’s second most […]

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The Stunning Story of Russian Minister Ulyukayev’s Arrest for Bribery, Explained

Alexei Ulyukayev file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 8, 2017) Alexei Ulyukayev, the first serving Russian minister to be arrested since the fall of the Soviet Union, will appear in court on Tuesday, after being accused of soliciting a bribe from the country’s largest oil company. The former Economic Development Minister has been under house arrest since his detention in the dead […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Despite Sanctions, Russia’s Oil Industry Powers On” – Wall Street Journal/ Bradley Olson, Jay Solomon

Oil Well file photo

“Exxon Mobil … is suffering from sanctions on Russia. The same can’t be said for other big Western energy companies, or for Russia’s oil production. … sanctions, put in place by the U.S. and European Union in 2014 after Russia’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine, were meant to limit Russia’s pursuit of new technology for extracting more crude oil […]

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Why the Comey Hearing Was Frightening to a Russian

Gas Facility file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – March 21, 2017) Leonid Bershidsky is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru. Monday’s hearing on Russia’s alleged interference in the U.S. presidential election and the alleged contacts between Donald Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin yielded inspiring news for […]

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Moscow Court Overturns Fine for Independent Russian News Outlet RBC

Igor Sechin file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 1, 2017) A Moscow court has overturned the decision to fine independent Russian news outlet RBC for libelling oligarch and Putin ally Igor Sechin. An RBC report published in April 2016 claimed that Sechin, the CEO of Russian oil giant Rosneft, had asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to block the company’s minority stakeholder from […]

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Russia’s Largest Oilfield May Be About to Gush Cash Once Again

Oil Well file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Stephen Bierman, Andrey Biryukov – February 15, 2017) #Russia’s largest #oil field, so far past its prime that it now pumps almost 20 times more water than crude, could be on the verge of gushing profits again for #Rosneft PJSC. Samotlor, the 25 billion-barrel giant that bankrolled the Soviet Union for decades, would be the biggest […]

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Rosneft Privatization Deal Closed As Italian Financing Comes Through

File Photo of Rosneft and Russian Flags Next to Rosneft Banner

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 4, 2017) The tumultuous privatization saga of Russia’s largest oil company appears to be drawing to a close. Swiss-British commodities trading firm Glencore and the Qatari Sovereign Wealth Fund have closed a deal to purchase 19.5 percent of state-controlled Rosneft, according to a statement on Glencore’s website. The news was followed by an announcement […]

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How Russia Outsmarted OPEC

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Irina Slav – December 5, 2016) #OPEC’s historical deal to cut production has been sealed, and #oil prices have jumped as a result, comfortably above the $50 per barrel mark. According to #Lukoil’s vice president, Leonid Fedun, the average price of crude in 2017 could reach US$60 a barrel, thanks in no small part to that agreement. According […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian bribery probe widens amid reports of Kremlin power struggle” – Washington Post/David Filipov

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

“… Russia’s state-run news agency reported … more officials could be targeted in the corruption probe that has already led to the arrest of the … economic development minister. Other news reports … name[d] names, all of them of officials close to … Medvedev, leader of the so-called liberals, who tend to favor a smaller state role in society and […]

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The Loyalty of Fear; Putin sends a message to the elite with the arrest of Russia’s economic development minister

File Photo of Rosneft and Russian Flags Next to Rosneft Banner

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Eva Hartog, Mikhail Fishman – November 16, 2016) It was an awkward, dramatic national moment for Russia: a bonafide minister of the federal government standing in court as the defendant, facing corruption charges and promising his cooperation to prosecutors, pleading to be released on bail. The hearing ended slightly anticlimactically, with a decision to place […]

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Russia’s Oil Industry Is Making The Most Of A Weak Ruble; Record Oil Production and Capital Spending Supported by Favorable FX Rate

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – October 21, 2016) While Russian federal revenue from oil and natural gas production has declined significantly in response to low oil prices, oil and natural gas companies have actually increased investments or only seen modest declines, according to the EIA. In ruble terms, the Brent price has actually increased by 40 percent from 2010 levels, while decreasing in […]

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Russia Shifts Focus From Oil To Agriculture

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Michael McDonald – October 13, 2016) Michael MaDonald is an assistant professor of finance and a frequent consultant to companies regarding capital structure decisions and investments. Russia’s biggest industry has been oil production historically, but the country appears to be trying to diversify that by putting more emphasis on agriculture. The former soviet state has been relying on […]

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Putin Isn’t About to Let Go of the Crown Jewels After Alrosa

Empty Boardroom

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anna Andrianova, Andrey Biryukov – July 12, 2016) Hatched in harsh economic times, Russia’s latest wave of privatization is off to a mixed start, and a sequel is by no means guaranteed. The sale of a 10.9 percent stake in Alrosa PJSC was the biggest divestment of a state asset since the government reduced its stake […]

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Sechin predicts oil price to reach $50-55 per barrel by end of 2016, $65 per barrel by end of 2017

Igor Sechin file photo

MOSCOW. June 22 (Interfax) – Oil prices will reach the levels of $50-55 per barrel by the end of 2016 and $65 per barrel by the end of 2017, Rosneft (MOEX: ROSN) CEO Igor Sechin said during an interview with Rossiya-24 television. “The current volatility will continue. We think that by the end of the year we will stably reach […]

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Putin Said to Weigh $11 Billion Rosneft Sale to China, India

File Photo of Rosneft and Russian Flags Next to Rosneft Banner

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Elena Mazneva, Ilya Arkhipov – June 19, 2016) Vladimir Putin is considering selling part of Russia’s corporate crown jewels to China and India as the president struggles to meet spending commitments before his possible re-election bid in less than two years. Russia has been seeking buyers for 19.5 percent of state oil champion Rosneft OJSC and […]

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International Economic Forum opens in St. Petersburg

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

Russian observers expect dialogue and possible progress on the softening of EU sanctions against Russia from the forum, as well as Gazprom and Shell’s joint launch of an enormous LNG plant in Russia’s northwest. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ALEXEI LOSSAN, RBTH – June 16, 2016) Leading world economists have gathered at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum […]

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Russia eyes $12.6 billion windfall from privatization of state companies

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

In 2016 the government intends to sell a part of the shares in its large raw commodity companies. The buyers can be foreign investors, but on certain conditions. It has already been announced that shares in Russia’s largest diamond mining company, Alrosa, will be sold through the Moscow Stock Exchange. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ANNA KUCHMA, RBTH […]

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A Winter Of Discontent For Russia

Snowy Night on Red Square with Old St. Basil's Lit Up

(Oilprice.com – Colin Chilcoat – August 25, 2015) Winters are the stuff of legend in Russia and – despite a fair bit of warming – winter 2015/16 is shaping up to be one of the harshest, and most formative, in recent memory. After a brief period of respite – and muted acceptance of the “new normal” – to start the […]

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Russian Press Digest (17 August 2015)

(opendemocracy.net – EDITORS OF OPENDEMOCRACY RUSSIA) This Monday, the Russian press reports on the import ban on foreign medicines, Rosneft’s taxes, and an attack by Orthodox activists on a Moscow sculpture exhibition. Kommersant opens with an article on new plans to ban imports of a range of medical products. Several large NGOs, including Vera and Podari zhizn, involved in medical […]

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RBTH: Fresh U.S. sanctions will only boost import substitution – Russian experts

Portion of U.S. Treasury Department Building Facade, North Side, with Sculpture of Alexander Hamilton

The extension of U.S. sanctions against Russia on July 30 will first and foremost lead to the strengthening of import substitution, say Russian analysts. However, with the blacklist now expanded to include branch companies of the country’s main development institute, Vnesheconombank, and Russia’s largest oil company, Rosneft, the realization of large infrastructure projects may seriously be affected. (Russia Beyond the […]

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Are The E.U. And Asia Turning A Blind Eye To Russian Sanctions?

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(Oilprice.com – Robert Berke – July 8, 2015) In a previous article on Oilprice, I questioned whether western sanctions imposed on Russia were being regularly breached by E.U. and Asian companies, noting that sanctions only work if all countries unite behind them. In June, the Financial Times reported that only one year after being imposed, the sanctions are eroding. It […]

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Kremlin to sell off 19.5% stake in Rosneft in bid to raise funds

File Photo Rosneft and Russian Flags Next to Rosneft Banner

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Alexei Lossan, RBTH- December 9, 2014) Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed an order to sell off 19.5 percent of the shares in Russia’s largest oil company, Rosneft. According to experts, this might help the government generate extra cash amid falling oil prices and Western sanctions. However, this may not be the […]

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Kommersant Editor Steps Down Amid Rumors of Pressure From Above

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Allison Quinn – November 11, 2014) The editor-in-chief of business daily Kommersant has resigned, triggering speculation Monday that he was forced out over a recent article in the newspaper about oil giant Rosneft. While theories behind the move multiplied and media reports fluctuated between calling it a dismissal and a resignation, the editor himself, Mikhail […]

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Putin Doesn’t Make Decisions Under Pressure, Sechin Says

Igor Sechin file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ilya Arkhipov, Ryan Chilcote – September 30, 2014) President Vladimir Putin won’t be swayed by sanctions over Ukraine because he doesn’t allow such pressures to affect his decisions, said Igor Sechin, head of OAO Rosneft (ROSN), Russia’s biggest oil company. “He will never let himself be pressured into making a decision,” Sechin, who’s worked with the […]

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RIA Novosti: Economy Minister Confirms Russian Plans to Privatize 19.5% in Rosneft Oil Company in 2015

File Photo Rosneft and Russian Flags Next to Rosneft Banner

MOSCOW, August 28 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian government is to go ahead with plans to privatize a 19.5 percent stake in oil major Rosneft in 2015, likely in two stages, Russian Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said Thursday. “The [government] plan is being upheld and preliminary operations have already begun. We are talking about the sale of the entire […]

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Business New Europe: Sanctions aim at Russia’s Arctic push

Polar Map Showing Permafrost Areas, Adapted From NOAA.gov Graphic

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Joe Parson in Moscow – August 21, 2014) US and EU sanctions are threatening to derail a monster exploration and production project in the Russian Arctic between state-owned Rosneft and US oil major ExxonMobil. The threat is not that Washington will pressure US companies to pull out of Russian deals. Rather, the latest round […]

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Navalny Proposes Sanctions List to the West

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Christopher Brennan – March 20, 2014) Opposition leader Alexei Navalny, currently under house arrest in connection with a criminal case against him, has written an op-ed for the New York Times in which he calls for sanctions on officials and businessmen connected to President Vladimir Putin. Saying that previous U.S. and EU sanctions in response […]

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Russian oil major Rosneft extends U.S. embrace

File Photo Rosneft and Russian Flags Next to Rosneft Banner

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – David Miller, special to RBTH – February 7, 2014) Russia’s biggest crude producer agrees to buy Morgan Stanley’s oil merchanting assets as it ramps up cooperation on new fields with U.S. major ExxonMobil. Russia’s largest oil firm, Rosneft, purchased Morgan Stanley’s oil trading and transportation business in a move that gives the firm […]

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Changes in Regulations Could Help Break the Offshore Ice

Polar Map Showing Permafrost Areas, Adapted From NOAA.gov Graphic

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Panin – February 3, 2014) State-controlled oil giant Rosneft had a very good year. That is what company chief executive Igor Sechin told Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Friday at a meeting to review Russia’s largest oil producer, whose capitalization grew by 18 percent to $73 billion at the end of 2013. Sechin’s optimism […]

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Echoing Soviet Era, Putin Uses Oil Giant Rosneft to Tighten Economic Grip

File Photo Rosneft and Russian Flags Next to Rosneft Banner

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Irina Reznik, Stephen Bierman and Henry Meyer – January 30, 2014) The record stretched across the history of the party and its socialist predecessor — from the first meeting in March 1898 to the last one in July 1990, a year and a half before the Soviet Union collapsed, Bloomberg Markets will report in its March […]

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Shuvalov Considers Delaying Rosneft Sale Until 2016

File Photo Rosneft and Russian Flags Next to Rosneft Banner

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Andrew McChesney – November 13, 2013) The government is considering delaying the privatization of oil giant Rosneft until 2016 or later as it seeks to maximize the price it can secure. Rosneft is scheduled to be privatized in 2015, and a postponement could put a dent in projected government spending. “We will have to discuss […]

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State to Keep Rosneft and RusHydro in New Privatization Plan

Alexei Ulyukayev file photo

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, June 27, 2013) ­ Russian oil giant Rosneft, hydropower holding company RusHydro and the nation’s second-largest lender VTB Bank are among assets that should stay under state control, Economics Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said on Thursday after presenting the government’s new privatization plan for 2014-2016. “Proceeding from the current state of world markets and problems with the […]

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Arctic Activity Heating Up

Map of Barents Sea and Polar Environs

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Lena Smirnova – May 30, 2013) When the virtual hammer came down on the country’s Arctic real estate last week, state-controlled Gazprom managed to get the largest slice. Gazprom vied with Rosneft and was awarded seven disputed areas in the Kara sea shelf and could split the eighth area, in the West Siberian sea, with […]

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Russia and China take great energy leap forward

Oil Well file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Ben Aris – April 7, 2013) Deepening economic ties with the new leadership in Beijing are evidence that Russia is increasingly looking towards Asia. A multibillion-pound raft of deals struck during new Chinese president Xi Jinping’s recent visit to Moscow demonstrates a strengthening of ties between the two countries. As does the fact […]

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Bright Days for Putin’s Dark Knight

Igor Sechin file photo

(Institute of Modern Russia – imrussia.org – Donald Jensen – March 19, 2013) Despite rumors of his waning influence, Rosneft chief Igor Sechin remains one of the most powerful members of Russia’s ruling establishment. Donald N. Jensen, Resident Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, discusses Sechin’s latest “string of triumphs.” […]

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Russia Adopts Texas Drilling to Revive Soviet Oil Fields

Oil Worker file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Stephen Bierman – March 18, 2013) Fracking isn’t just for shale. In Russia, producers are importing techniques from the U.S. to squeeze billions of dollars of extra oil from Soviet-era fields. TNK-BP, Russia’s third-largest producer, will use hydraulic fracturing combined with horizontal drilling in almost half the wells it sinks this year, a sixfold increase in […]

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Russia Seeks Closer Energy Partnership with China

China Map

(Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 10, Issue 42 – Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – Sergei Blagov – March 6, 2013) On February 25, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich traveled to China to attend a first meeting of the bilateral intergovernmental commission on energy cooperation. The commission was formed in December 2012 to replace the bilateral Russia-China energy dialogue. Dvorkovich held […]

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Rosneft revenues threaten Gazprom’s top spot; Rosneft is preparing to steal Gazprom’s crown as Russia’s largest company.

Igor Sechin file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – www.rbth.ru – Galina Starinskaya, special to RBTH- February 14, 2013) CEO Igor Sechin directed massive growth for state-owned Rosneft in 2012, developing international partnerships in offshore projects, a merger with TNK-BP and a move toward direct long-term contracts. If Gazprom loses its monopoly on exports of liquefied natural gas, as Rosneft expects, the latter will […]

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Russian Energy Review in 2012: Consolidating State Control in an Uncertain Market

Oil Well file photo

(Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 10, Issue 10 – Jamestown Foundation: jamestown.org – Margarita Assenova – January 18, 2013) Increased state control and consolidation of the oil and gas sector marked Russia’s energy developments in 2012, while the state budget remained heavily dependent on energy revenues. At the same time, Russia’s markets in Europe are shrinking due to the economic crisis […]

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Rosneft to Replace Gazprom as Energy Driver on TNK Deal

File Photo Rosneft and Russian Flags Next to Rosneft Banner

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anna Shiryaevskaya – October 19, 2012) OAO Rosneft (ROSN)’s proposed acquisition of TNK-BP will accelerate the state oil company’s eclipse of OAO Gazprom (OGZD) as the dominant force in Russia’s energy industry. President Vladimir Putin used Gazprom, the world’s biggest natural gas producer, to assert Russia’s energy power over the past decade, winning pipeline deals and […]

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