A Landmark Caspian Agreement — And What It Resolves

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – – Bruce Pannier – August 9, 2018- also appeared at rferl.org/a/qishloq-ovozi-landmark-caspian-agreement–and-what-it-resolves/29424824.html) It has taken more than 20 years. But on August 12, the leaders of Azerbaijan, Iran,  Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan will meet in the Kazakh port city of Aqtau, reportedly to sign a new convention on the legal status […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “U.S. to impose ‘crushing’ set of sanctions on Russia’s debt and oil” – bne Intellinews/Ben Aris

American Flag and Partial View of U.S. Capitol Dome, adapted from image at aoc.gov

“A proposed ‘crushing’ bipartisan bill introduced by the … Senate … will not be debated until … autumn and many … harsh terms could be considerably watered down, Luis Saenz, … co-head of equities at BCS Global Markets said …. [The] bill … targets Russian debt and energy companies, designed to punish Russia for interfering in the U.S. presidential election, […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Western Sanctions on Russia’s Oil and Gas Sector: a Damage Assessment” – Carnegie Moscow/Tatiana Mitrova

Oil Well file photo

“Don’t be misled by Western sanctions’ limited impact on Russia. In reality, they operate with an accumulating effect: the more time passes, the greater the potential technological backlog, financing gap, and negative consequences will be. In the long run, sanctions may jeopardize Russia’s oil and gas production volumes and the development of pipeline infrastructure, gradually squeezing the country out of […]

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In Helsinki, Trump Takes ‘Do No Harm’ Approach to Russia on 2 Issues: Syria and Energy

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – Nikolas K. Gvosdev – July 17, 2018 – russiamatters.org/analysis/helsinki-trump-takes-do-no-harm-approach-russia-2-issues-syria-and-energy) Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Research Institute; Senior Fellow, Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs Despite some predictions that President Donald Trump would announce U.S. recognition of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, or cancel U.S. military deployments to Eastern Europe and the Baltic states, his summit in […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “U.S.-Russia Relations are Stuck on Repeat; Both Trump and Putin are now locked into narratives about what did (or did not) happen that prevent this issue from being dealt with-and this holds the entire rest of the bilateral agenda hostage” – The National Interest/Nikolas K. Gvosdev

“… the United States has not altered its position that Crimea remains a part of Ukraine and continues to deny any recognition that … annexation … [by Russia] was legal. … the United States has not, as a result of the Helsinki meeting, agreed to stop providing Ukraine with weapons or to cease the training of the Ukrainian military. … […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia Is Building $320 Million Icebreakers to Carve New Arctic Routes; The 1,000-foot-long vessels for hauling liquefied natural gas can cut through ice up to 7 feet thick” – Bloomberg/Eric Roston

Arctic Map

“… there’s no less hospitable an industrial workplace than Yamal LNG, a $27 billion liquid natural gas plant … in Russian territory 375 miles north of the Arctic Circle. In the winter, when there’s zero sun for more than two months, temperatures reach -13F on land and -58F in the blinding fog out at sea. … [T]here’s a lot of […]

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Russia’s Finance Ministry Warns Of Another Price Collapse

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Irina Slav – July 9, 2018 – oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Russias-Finance-Ministry-Warns-Of-Another-Price-Collapse.html) If prices remain at their current level, another collapse could be around the corner, the Russian Finance Ministry has warned in a report, cited by Sputnik. According to the report, the long-term equilibrium price level for crude oil is currently around US$50-60 a barrel, but actual prices are substantially higher […]

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U.S. And Russia To Dominate World’s Oil & Gas Pipeline Spending

Gas Flame file photo

(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – June 28, 2018) The U.S. shale boom and the massive Russian expansion of natural gas pipelines will make the United States and Russia the dominant spenders on oil, petroleum products, and natural gas pipelines through 2022, data and analytics company GlobalData says in a new report. The other big spenders between 2018 and 2022 will […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “As OPEC watches nervously, Russia and Saudi Arabia create a new axis – of oil; Russia is trying to be friends with everyone at once, and wielding growing influence” – Christian Scicence Monitor/Fred Weir

Middle East Map

“… Russia and Saudi Arabia ha[ve] agreed to ‘institutionalize’ their two-year old bilateral arrangement to coordinate oil production targets in order to smooth out global price fluctuations. Being two of the world’s three biggest oil producers – the third is the United States – their combined weight can be decisive. In 2016, Moscow and Riyadh agreed to slash production, and […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia-Saudi Plans for Super-OPEC Could Reshape Global Oil Order” – Bloomberg/Will Kennedy, Elena Mazneva, Wael Mahdi

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

“… the group overseeing the so-called OPEC+ deal met last night [with] proceedings … dominated by … Saudi Arabia and Russia. … probably a snapshot of the oil market’s future.  Beyond … this week’s diplomatic efforts to agree to an increase in oil production, the more significant longer-term development may be moves to make Russia’s role in managing global supply […]

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Russia’s Oil Sector Is Facing A Massive Tax Overhaul

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Irina Slav – June 11, 2018) A major tax overhaul in Russia’s oil industry is about to start pressuring the earnings of major oil companies. Refiners will be hit hardest as the overhaul will increase the tax burden on downstream operations while the upstream sector will see taxes shift from production-based to profit-based. Last week, the Finance and […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Transformed Gas Markets Fuel U.S.-Russian Rivalry, But Europe Plays Key Role Too [Excerpt]” – Russia Matters/Morena Skalamera

Gas Flame file photo

[Full text: russiamatters.org/analysis/transformed-gas-markets-fuel-us-russian-rivalry-europe-plays-key-role-too; This article first appeared on the Russia Matters website, russiamatters.org, with the title “Transformed Gas Markets Fuel U.S.-Russian Rivalry, But Europe Plays Key Role Too”] “This month, the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. President Donald Trump has been pressuring Germany to drop its support for a major new Russian gas pipeline if Europe wants to avoid […]

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Russia Just Won Big In The European Gas War

Gas Facility file photo

(Oilprice.com – Tim Daiss – May 28, 2018) There’s been a lot of talk on both sides of the Atlantic about the U.S. pivot and efforts at locking in natural as market share in Europe. Much of this comes amid President Donald Trump’s so-called American energy independence push as well as both U.S. and several EU members thrust to wean […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Flexes Its Soft Power Muscles; Extending output cuts deepens its role in global affairs” – Bloomberg/Julian Lee

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

“Oil has … [surpassed] $80 a barrel for the first time since November 2014. OPEC’s inventory target for output cuts has been met. … even though [Russian] oil companies want to turn on the taps and its finance ministry may be worried about prices rising too far, Russia won’t [end] its output deal with the group … when … participants […]

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Is Russia About To Abandon The OPEC Deal?

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Irina Slav – May 17, 2018) OPEC and Russia are meeting in a little more than a month to discuss the progress of their oil production deal and what’s next. On the face of things, there will be no surprises: every country taking part in the deal is still committed to the cuts until the end of the […]

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‘Thank You, Donald’ for Sending Oil Prices Up, Russian Commentator Says

Oil Wells File Photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 13, 2018) As a result of rising petroleum prices and projections that they will go even higher as result of instability in the Middle East, the Russian Federation is projected to earn five times as much from the sale of oil and gas this year than last and have a budget […]

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Expert Analysis: What’s Next For Russian Oil

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Viktor Katona – May 14, 2018) [Text with links oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Expert-Analysis-Whats-Next-For-Russian-Oil.html] In the wake of Putin’s May 7 inauguration, the corridors of power in Moscow have been replete with speculation regarding the composition of the next government. Alexander Novak, the Energy Minister, is one of the lucky few whose performance President Putin was genuinely satisfied with, hence the lack […]

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Putin: Russia Looks To Get Free Of U.S. Dollar ‘Burden’ In Oil Trade

Offshore Oil Rig file photo

(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – May 9, 2018) Russia is mulling over ways to ‘get free’ of the U.S. dollar burden in oil trade as part of a plan to boost its national economic sovereignty, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “Oil is traded in dollars on the exchange,” TASS news agency quoted Putin as saying. “Certainly, we are thinking about […]

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Europe Buys More Russian Gas Despite Strained Relations

Gas Flame file photo

(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – May 8, 2018) The West-Russia relations have reached a new low since the Cold War amid the spy poisoning scandal in the UK, allegations of Russian meddling in elections, and fresh U.S. sanctions on Russia. Yet European countries continue to buy increased amounts of Russian gas, and Russia’s state-held gas giant Gazprom is boosting production […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Misplaced Fears Over Nord Stream 2; Nord Stream 2 provides another reliable route for transporting gas to Europe, nothing more, nothing less.” – The National Interest/Klaus Schäfer, Mario Mehren, Rainer Seele

Gas Flame file photo

“… The European gas market has … modernized and liberalized over the last decade. …. The Third Energy Package put in place a well-developed, intra-European framework of hubs that allows gas to flow freely in multiple directions from a variety of points of origin. … allow[ing] European consumers to buy gas from whomever they wish … [it] simply does not […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia in interesting times: increased risk bad; weaker ruble good” – bne Intellinews/Chris Weafer

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

“… April 6 U.S. sanctions [represent a significant shift] in terms of risk … actual and perceived, for foreign investors and companies …. The … Treasury Department … expanded the risk paramaters … targeting oligarchs and their business interests … previously it was assumed that sanctions expansion would be confined to political targets and individuals considered close to the president […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Turkey visit brings S-400 missile and nuclear plant headway” – bne Intellinews

Turkey and Environs Satellite Image

“… Erdogan received … Putin in Ankara … with a crowded agenda … including … Turkey’s first nuclear power plant, the purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defence system and progress with the TurkStream natural gas pipeline …. even more challenging … with the scheduled arrival of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and … the complicated task of finding an end-game […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian Billionaire Arrest Jolts Stocks, Fuels Cabinet Shake-Up Speculation” – Bloomberg/Ksenia Galouchko, Ilya Arkhipov, Stepan Kravchenko

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

“The arrest of one of Russia’s best-connected billionaires on charges of fraud and embezzlement knocked shares in his companies lower and fueled speculation it could be the harbinger of a shake-up in the cabinet …. [Dagestani-born] Ziyavudin Magomedov was arrested … with his brother … as he prepared to fly to the U.S. … he denied the charges but was […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia Wormed Its Way Into Access at Power Plants, U.S. Says; Cyberattacks Put Russian Fingers on the Switch at Power Plants, U.S. Says” – New York Times

Electrical Yard file photo

“The Trump administration accused Russia … of engineering a series of cyberattacks that targeted American and European nuclear power plants and water and electric systems, and could have sabotaged or shut power plants off at will. United States officials and private security firms saw the attacks as a signal by Moscow that it could disrupt the West’s critical facilities in […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Why Is Russian Gas in Boston Harbor? Environmentalists’ war on fossil fuels helps Vladimir Putin” – Wall Street Journal/Drew Johnson

Gas Flame file photo

“Why are some parts of America reliant on Russian natural gas, especially when domestic gas production has surged? … [it’s] political. … Massachusetts and New Hampshire [officials] blocked … the $3 billion Access Northeast Pipeline, which would have … provided fuel to three New England states. … [the] Massachusetts Attorney General … claimed the state could ‘maintain electric reliability’ without […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Ukraine maintains gas transit to Europe despite new gas war with Russia” – Intellinews/Ben Aris

Gas Flame file photo

“Fears that Russia would stop sending transit gas to its European customers via Ukraine were not borne out over the weekend despite Russian state own gas monopolist Gazprom’s announcement that it was going to break its contracts with its Ukrainian counter party Naftogaz on March 2. Naftogaz immediately announced emergency measures, calling on Ukrainians to turn down the thermostat, switching […]

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Interfax: Medvedev: U.S. seeks to oust Russian companies from European market by putting them on different lists

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

SOCHI. Feb 15 (Interfax) – The United States is seeking to oust Russian companies from European market by including them in different lists, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said. “Why are they doing so? For purely pragmatic reasons, this is because they want to promote their companies to European market, but, saying it straightforwardly, Europe and the U.S. are now […]

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Russia Gets $41.5 Billion Boost From OPEC Deal

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – February 13, 2018) Since the start of the OPEC-Russia production cut deal, Russia’s oil companies and government have received the equivalent of around US$41.5 billion more in proceeds, thanks to the higher oil prices, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Tuesday. Due to the higher oil prices as a result of the pact, Russia’s […]

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Russia Struggling To Expand Arctic Oil Production

Arctic Satellite Image and Map

(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – January 30, 2018) Oil production from Russia’s Arctic region increased in 2017 as new onshore developments and the only offshore producing platform ramped up production. But challenges in Russia’s arctic remain. Last year, production from onshore fields in Yamal-Nenets autonomous region in northern Russia contributed the most to the rise in oil production in the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia global top oil producer in November” – bne Intellinews

Oil Well file photo

“Russia produced an average of 10.12mn barrels of oil daily in November 2017, down from 10.86 a month earlier[,] but … is still the world’s top oil producer in the reporting month … Rosstat [says]. … followed by Saudi Arabia with 9.9mn barrels of average daily oil output. The combined output of the Opec states amounted to 32mn barrels in […]

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Can Russia Sustain Its Foreign Policy Power Plays in 2018?

File Photo of U.S. Embassy Moscow, with Russian Foreign Ministry Building in Distance

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jonathan Brown, Editor, Moscow Times – January 31, 2018) When Vladimir Putin landed in Syria late last year, he was greeted by President Bashar Assad not as a foreign dignitary, but as the guardian of the embattled nation. “Syria has been preserved as a sovereign and independent state,” Putin told soldiers assembled at the Khmeimim […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Gazprom gas exports to Europe rise 8% to new record” – Financial Times/ Henry Foy

Gas Flame file photo

“Russia’s gas exports to Europe rose 8.1 per cent last year to a record level of 193.9bn cubic metres (bcm), the company’s head said … as the world’s largest gas producer continued to increase sales despite rising competition from LNG and other sources. Gazprom … has a monopoly over Russia’s gas pipelines to Europe [and] has been forced to reduce […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia to Keep Its Grip on Europe’s Gas Market After Record 2017” – Bloomberg/ Elena Mazneva

Gas Facility file photo

“Russia is working to keep natural gas exports to Europe near record levels in 2018 after the continent’s biggest supplier, Gazprom PJSC, said its deliveries this year signal it is achieving on its ambitions to expand. …”  

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NEWSWATCH: “U.S. Criticizes Germany’s Support of New Russian Natural Gas Line; Top state department official praises Denmark for passing law that could hamper pipeline project” – Wall Street Journal/ Paul Sonne

Gas Flame file photo

“[Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs A. Wess Mitchell] offered harsh words … for Germany over the country’s continued support for a new Russian gas pipeline to Europe … known as Nord Stream 2 … a wholly owned subsidiary of Russian state energy giant Gazprom [that] would double Russia’s export capacity … adding a second link between Russia and Germany. * […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Gazprom spends big to keep trillion dollar dream alive; Russian gas exporter ramps up borrowing and raids cashpile to maintain growth” – Financial Times/ Henry Foy

Gas Facility file photo

“In an effort to fight back, Gazprom is …. [r]amping up borrowing and raiding its … cash pile … splurging on critical new infrastructure …. it announced that it expected to spend 24 per cent more this year on long-term investment, capital expenditure and acquisitions previously forecast. … next year’s spending [is projected to] hit a record Rbs 1.28tn ($22bn), up 13 per cent on […]

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Russia Unfazed By U.S. Oil Sanctions

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Viktor Katona – November 9, 2017) Western energy sanctions vis-à-vis Russia have become a steady phenomenon of the global oil and gas market. Most Russian oil companies don’t expect sanctions to be scrapped anytime soon-an assessment espoused by the political elites of the country, too. The sides even seem to have resigned their minds to the current frosty […]

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Russian LNG Unfazed By U.S. Sanctions

Asia Map

(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – November 2, 2017) Russia’s energy industry faces a new round of U.S. sanctions – including on oil projects in any location if a designated entity holds more than 33 percent. And in Europe, where Russia’s gas giant Gazprom currently holds a large share of the gas supplies, Poland and Lithuania are buying U.S. LNG in […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Uses Its Oil Giant, Rosneft, as a Foreign Policy Tool” – New York Times/ Clifford Krauss

File Photo of Rosneft and Russian Flags Next to Rosneft Banner

“Russia is increasingly wielding oil as a geopolitical tool, spreading … influence … and challenging the interests of the United States. … Moscow risks running into trouble … lend[ing] money and mak[ing] deals in turbulent economies and shaky political climates. The strategy faces a crucial test this week in Venezuela, a Russian ally that must come up with a billion dollars to avert […]

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Russia Goes All In On Arctic Oil Development

Arctic Map

(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – October 19, 2017) Neither sanctions nor persistently low oil prices are hindering Russia’s ambitions or plans to develop oil resources in its sections of the Arctic. In April, state-controlled oil giant Rosneft started drilling the northernmost well on the Russian Arctic shelf in the Khatangsky license area in the Laptev Sea. In June, Rosneft struck […]

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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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Is This The Geopolitical Shift Of The Century?

Middle East Map

(Oilprice.com – Cyril Widdershoven – October 7, 2017) Dr. Cyril Widdershoven is a long-time observer of the global energy market. Presently, he holds several advisory positions with international think tanks in the Middle East and energy sectors in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The geopolitical reality in the Middle East is changing dramatically. The impact of […]

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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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RUSSIALINK: “[Putin at] Russian Energy Week Forum plenary session” – KremlinRu

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

[This excerpt includes only the comments by Putin] [Click here for Q&A and video with English interpretation: en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/55767] Vladimir Putin attended a plenary session of the first Russian Energy Week (REW) Energy Efficiency and Energy Development International Forum. Following the plenary session, Vladimir Putin had a brief meeting with foreign guests of the Russian Energy Week who arrived in Moscow to […]

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Saudi Arabia to Plan Russia Deals, Deepening Energy Ties

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Wael Mahdi , Elena Mazneva, Ilya Arkhipov – October 3, 2017) Saudi Arabia is looking at unprecedented deals to acquire #oil and #gas assets in Russia, deepening ties between the world’s largest energy exporters as the Saudi king prepares to visit Moscow later this week. OPEC’s biggest crude producer is considering investing in Russia’s largest oil […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Oil prices rise to highest level in two years” – Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Oil Wells File Photo

“Trouble between Turkey and the Kurds led oil prices to rise to $59 per barrel on September 26, their highest level in more than two years. Kurds held a referendum in … Iraq calling for … an independent Kurdish homeland for the ethnic group, who spill over the borders of neighbouring Turkey, Iran and Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan […]

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NEWSLINK: “Greasing the public’s hands: how oil and gas taxes financed the Kremlin’s social contract” – Bear Market Blog/ Miranda Lupion

Gas Flame file photo

“This past month, Russian news outlet RBC published a detailed report breaking down the revenue sources that funded the Kremlin’s 2016 federal budget. While the headline, “50 Companies Furnished Half of the Russian Budget’s Tax Revenue,” may come as no surprise to those familiar with the country’s business landscape, the fine print is worth a double take. In 2016, revenue […]

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What Jolted Russia’s Investments Is About to Fizzle Out; From pipelines to cash registers, the factors that caused last quarter’s pickup in investment are only temporary

Gas Facility file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anna Andrianova – August 30, 2017) [Text with charts bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-30/what-jolted-russia-s-investments-is-about-to-fizzle-out] Russian investments have spiked to a five-year high as the economy exited recession, but the factors that drove the boom are already fading. Fixed-capital investment accelerated an annual 6.3 percent in the second quarter, according to Bank of Russia estimates, the most since 2012. The jump […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Despite New U.S. Sanctions, Russian Oil Traders Say It’s Business as Usual” – Reuters

Oil Well file photo

“Russian oil companies will quickly find ways to work around tighter restrictions imposed this month by the United States on the foreign finance they can use, multiple Russian oil industry sources told Reuters. … new restrictions cut the period that U.S.-based entities can provide finance to Russian energy firms from 90 to 60 days … part of a fresh package of U.S. […]

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