Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Miscalculation?

RFE/RL publishes the comments of Julian Lee, a senior energy analyst with the Center for Global Energy Studies in London, who believes the Gazprom cutoff could have been "a serious miscalculation" on the part of Russia. The article continues:
Moscow may yet win its dispute with Kyiv, which has angered Russia with its westward-leaning tendencies. But has it lost on another front -- its relations with the European Union?

The 1 January gas cutoff coincided with Russia's ascent to the chairmanship of the Group of Eight major industrialized nations. Many considered it a rich opportunity for Russia to present itself as a stable provider for the world's energy needs.

The past two days, however, may suddenly have Europe reconsidering its reliance on Russian gas.

Lee says Europe may depend on Russia for one-quarter of its gas supplies, but Russia also depends on Europe as a critical export market. He says the supply interruption may remind some European policymakers that oil and gas can always be found elsewhere.

"Europe is a continent that is surrounded by gas producers -- not just in Russia and some of the Caspian states of the former Soviet Union, but also in the North Sea and in North Africa. Russia has a very expensive network of pipelines that were built to carry its gas into Europe. It has at the moment no pipelines to carry its gas anywhere else," Lee says.
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