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Energy Blast – Jan 12th, 2009

The Ukraine-Russia gas dispute has sent European natural gas prices to a three-year high, setting them up for a steep decline.  Does the situation offer an opportunity for Europe to seek reforms of the gas trade, and in particular, of its ‘shadowy intermediaries’?  The Moscow Times says the dispute ‘is giving new life to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s pet project’ – the Nord Stream pipeline under the Baltic Sea.  Slovakia says it will reactivate a Soviet-style nuclear generator that has a record of safety problems, because it has received no Russian gas since last Thursday.  Garry Kasparov suggests that it is in Russia’s interests to increase tension in the Middle East, as volatility could increase the price of oil, which is currently hovering around $40 a barrel.  Russia may cut its oil export duty to around $100 per ton from February 1st to account for lower prices.  Iran’s OPEC representative said that Iran would discuss swapping natural gas with Russia and Qatar at an upcoming meeting of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum.