[R-P] Rusia enfrenta a la Shell y a British Petroleum
nestorgoro en fibertel.com.ar
Mie Sep 20 08:09:20 MDT 2006
Gentileza de la A-list
[No tengo tiempo para traducir, lo lamento. Pero el núcleo de estas
noticias es que Rusia, a través de Gazprom, está recuperando la
propiedad de sus hidrocarburos después de la ola entreguista de
Yeltsin (=Menem). Indudablemente, Putin representa algo muy
En este momento, son la Shell y la British Petroleum las que
descubren que si no empieza a respetar al dueño de casa pueden
quedarse sin las concesiones del tiempo del oprobio. Un mecanismo
para ello, en el caso Shell, es retirarle la habilitación por causas
ambientales. En la Argentina, sería sencillísimo liquidar todas las
concesiones con ese argumento: desde que se entregó el petróleo a
los pulpos imperialistas, los "accidentes" ambientales son cosa de
todos los días.
Cito de uno de los artículos: "La única pregunta ayer era si la línea
dura del Kremlin eran malas noticias serias para la Shell o si se
trata simplemente de un truco en la negociación, para garantizar en
el contrato mejores condiciones para el gobierno y el pueblo rusos.
De lo que no cabe duda alguna es de que, tras haber dado la
bienvenida con brazos abiertos a la inversión extranjera en sus
hidrocarburos, ahora el Kremlin se decidió a ejercer más influencia -
y aún control directo- sobre sus vastos recursos naturales."]
Russian bear ready to maul Western oil majors
By Andrew Osborn in Moscow and Michael Harrison in London
The Independent: 20 September 2006
The biggest Western investment in Russia to date - the $20bn (£10bn)
Sakhalin-2 oil and gas development off the Siberian coast - was
plunged into further turmoil yesterday after the Kremlin said talks
over Gazprom taking a stake in the project had stalled.
The bombshell came as Shell, which is the lead company in the project
with a 55 per cent shareholding, faced the very real prospect of
being stripped of a key environmental licence for its development of
Sakhalin-2, throwing the future of the entire project into
Shell has been in talks with Gazprom for more than a year about
swapping 25 per cent of its interest in Sakhalin-2 for a half share
in one of the state-owned Russian gas company's onshore fields in
central Siberia. But yesterday, Gazprom said the talks with Shell
over a possible asset swap were off.
No ifs or buts, just a closed door. The company said there had been
"no movement in the past year" and signalled it was no longer worth
Sakhalin, a starkly beautiful island in Russia's far east that is
closer to Tokyo than Moscow, is famous for its dearth of good news.
Ask a Russian and they will tell you - its crime rate is higher than
elsewhere in Russia, it used to be a sprawling Tsarist penal colony,
and in 1995 an earthquake killed about 2,000 people.
The question that was being asked yesterday was whether the Kremlin's
tough line spelt seriously bad news for Shell or whether it was
simply a negotiating ploy to extract better terms from the deal for
the Russian government and its people.
For there is no doubt that, having welcomed foreign investment into
its oil and gas industry with open arms, the Kremlin is now keen to
exercise more influence, if not direct control over its vast natural
At the same time as Shell is under pressure to cede a bigger share of
Sakhalin-2 to Gazprom, the country's monopoly gas supplier is also
said to be eyeing the 50 per cent stake in TNK-BP, which is owned by
a group of private Russian investors. The TNK-BP stake, which is in
the hands of three Russian oligarchs, is likely to come up for sale
at the end of next year.
The stakes at Sakhalin are high, which perhaps explains why the
geopolitical tensions are so high and why the Japanese government
intervened yesterday in the dispute on behalf of its two minority
shareholders in the project, Mitsubishi and Mitsui.
The UK ambassador to Russia said yesterday he was "deeply concerned",
Tokyo warned Moscow that bilateral ties could be damaged, and the
European Union's energy commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, said he
regarded the situation as "very serious". Sakhalin-2 is due to start
supplying Japan and South Korea with gas within the next two years
and it is rightly regarded as one of the gems in Russia's energy
A spokesman for the Russian government said yesterday that Shell
could have the licence revoked "within a day or two", raising the
spectre of work grinding to a halt. The licence relates to Shell's
environmental obligations in the area.
The oil and gas it is trying to get at lies under the feeding grounds
of critically endangered whales and must be exported through a new
pipeline that will criss-cross 1,100 rivers and streams.
Russia's Natural Resources Ministry alleges that Shell has flouted
the country's environmental legislation. "We are not against foreign
investment," Oleg Mitvol, the head of Russia's state environment
agency, said yesterday. "But we are against attempts to make us look
like a banana republic."
The revenue-sharing agreement that underpins Sakhalin-2 was signed in
1993 and allows Moscow to get a slice of the profits only when the
project finally comes on line.
So far Russia has not received a rouble, apart from the delays, and
has been told that the cost of bringing the oil and gas ashore has
doubled to $20bn, delaying the moment when Kremlin Inc can begin
reaping serious profits still further. Analysts say that Shell seems
to think it can act as if Russia was frozen in time in 1993 when the
deal was first signed.
The original agreement was inked at a time when Russia was on its
knees and when then President Boris Yeltsin was borrowing as fast as
With near-record oil prices and a booming Russian economy today the
situation is very different though and if there is one thing Moscow
is not short of it is capital.
One Western oil expert said: "Shell is in difficulty because when it
did the original deal with the Russians it got extremely sweet terms.
There is tremendous resentment in Russia about the terms of that deal
which are now seen as far too favourable to Shell.
"The oil price was a lot lower and the Russians needed Western
investment. Now that the oil price has rocketed the Russians want a
better deal and they are determined to get it. They are seeking to
achieve it through the medium of their state-owned oil companies."
Adam Landes, an oil and gas analyst at Renaissance Capital, concedes
that Russia could have spelled out its concerns to Shell better and
like many others, he believes that Russia's environmental concerns
are a convenient tool to pile on pressure.
But he believes that Moscow is not behaving unreasonably and that any
other foreign government would behave in the same way if it thought
it had been badly let down by a foreign investor.
"Shell doesn't have a position to bargain from," he aid. "Russia has
realised that natural resources are its greatest asset and that it
doesn't have to give them away anymore.
"It has been saying for months now that it doesn't want PSAs
(production-sharing agreements) but it strikes me that foreign
investors have not been listening. It's not such a terrible thing
that's being asked."
BP could be faced with similar uncertainty at the end of next year
when the shareholder lock-in at TKN-BP ends. Privately, company
executives accept that the dynamics of the joint company will change
should Gazprom or Rosneft become the Russian shareholder. The
question is in what way.
One of TNK-BP's key assets, for instance, is the giant Kovytka gas
field in eastern Siberia which is so far undeveloped. To get the gas
to market, TNK-BP will need the support of Gazprom, which controls
Russia's gas infrastructure. BP insiders insist that what will not
change are the corporate governance rules or legal structure under
which the joint company was set up. It is registered in the Virgin
Islands and any shareholder disputes have to be settled under UK law.
Mr Landes of Renaissance Capital argues that investors should not
take fright but rather realise that Russia has changed and is a very
different country from that in 1993. "Russia is signalling that it
wants investment, both foreign and Russian, but it wants business
done on its terms," he said. For the moment, that message appears to
have been lost in translation, though.
Jeremy Warner's Outlook: Dancing with the Russian bear is proving a
high-risk game for our Western oil giants
The Independent: 20 September 2006
Dancing with the Russian bear can be dangerous to your wealth.
Nobody knows this better than Lord Browne of Madingley, chief
executive of BP.
He's already lost one fortune through the encounter.
Once bitten, twice shy, you might have thought, but on the basis that
Russia was becoming one of the biggest oil and gas producers in the
world and BP therefore couldn't afford not to be there, Lord Browne
hopped straight back into bed with the very same oligarchs who had
ripped him off first time around.
His second bite at the cherry - TNK-BP - has thus far proved an
altogether more advantageous one. In just three years, BP has had all
its original capital investment of $8.5bn (£4.5bn) back in dividends
and asset sales.
Yet BP still owns half the company and if the Kremlin is indeed hell
bent on expelling the foreigner in its efforts to re-establish
control over Russia's energy assets, then this would knock a mighty
hole in BP's reserves and profits. The Russian government has already
done it once with Yukos, since renamed Rosneft and floated on the
London and Moscow stock markets. That was a special case, say
apologists, as Yukos's founder, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, had evaded his
taxes and in a very public way had attempted to set up a state within
the state by bribing the Russian Duma.
Unfortunately, the evidence of the past month suggests that it
perhaps wasn't as much of a one- off as presented. With the chorus of
"what about the grey whale" echoing in its ears, the Russian
government's natural resources ministry has now formally withdrawn an
environmental permit for the $20bn Royal Dutch Shell-led Sakhalin-2
development inRussia's far east. That the grey whale would fare
better in Russian hands than those of Shell seems rather doubtful,
but of course everyone knows the withheld permit has got nothing to
do with the environment.
Instead it's about money, as these things usually are, and in
particular about the terms on which Shell and others originally went
into Sakhalin in the late 1990s. Even then, with the oil price flat
on its back and Russia desperate for foreign investment following
default on its overseas debts, the deal looked a giveaway. Today the
terms of Shell's production-sharing agreement seem like outright
theft from a Russian point of view, never mind that we in the West
tend to regard a contract as a contract. The trouble with Russia is
that it has yet to learn these niceties of the capitalist system. The
negotiating point is around an asset swap that Shell had been
planning with Gazprom, the state-controlled Russian gas company. The
idea was that Shell would give up part of its Sakhalin-2 spoils in
return for a stake in Gazprom assets elsewhere.
Gazprom yesterday formally withdrew from these negotiations, but
presumably the door would be open again together with the promise of
the environmental permit if Shell was prepared to given ground on
what's swapped for what. What is plain, as this column has been
warning for some years now, is that in matters commercial, the
Russians cannot be trusted.
These are the wild eastern frontiers of capitalism where despite
Russia's attempts to join the modern world the rule of law has yet to
be properly recognised. Anyone with any understanding of Russian
history, with its tradition of arbitrary, authoritarian government,
would know the dangers. The potential rewards are vast, but the risks
Nobody is yet suggesting that Russia would attempt to sequestrate
BP's interest in TNK-BP. By deliberately not going the production-
sharing route, where past agreements may be open to interpretation,
but instead investing directly in a Russian oil company, Lord Browne
seems to be on somewhat firmer ground. His partners can sell at the
end of next year should they wish. The last thing BP would want to do
is buy them out, even if the Kremlin said it was allowable. Rightly,
Lord Browne figures that his best defence is for TNK to be seen as
As the state moves to assert control over strategically important
assets, the most likely buyer would be Gazprom. Would Lord Browne
feel any more comfortable with such a partner? Possibly yes, as
snuggling up to the state is part of the price that must be paid for
practising business in Russia.
It might also help with other projects BP has in common with Gazprom
in this energy rich land. That was certainly the thinking behind BP's
support for the Rosneft flotation. Whether Shell's notable absence
from the list of share buyers in Rosneft has had any bearing on
current events is an interesting question, but if you chose to dance
with the Russian bear, you must expect to keep sweet talking him even
when he's trampling all over your feet.
Funnily enough, BP is proving rather better at negotiating the
realpolitik of Russian business than it is in the US.
Virtuously abstaining from all political donations in the US may have
won BP brownie points with the ethical investing brigade - if that is
indeed possible for an oil company - but it has done the company few
favours in its hour of need on Capitol Hill, where such payments are
regarded as routine. As the list of US disasters pile up, BP has
found itself almost entirely friendless on the other side of the
pond. I doubt Lord Browne is making the same mistake out east.
-- http://www.fastmail.fm - I mean, what is it about a decent email
Este correo lo ha enviado
Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
nestorgoro en fibertel.com.ar
[No necesariamente es su autor]
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"La patria tiene que ser la dignidad arriba y el regocijo abajo".
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