Kremlin Looks East with Gas

Sergei Blagov at EDM has posted a very interesting article on Gazprom’s interests in the Far East. One excerpt:

Gazprom and the China National Petroleum Corp, the parent company of PetroChina, signed a memorandum on gas supplies during President Vladimir Putin’s March visit to China. On October 18, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller and China National Petroleum Corporation President Chen Geng discussed the main conditions for supplies of Russian gas to China through pipelines running from western and eastern Siberia, according to a Gazprom press statement. South Korea has generally been considered off-limits to Gazprom because a gas pipeline through North Korea remains impossible. However, on October 17 Gazprom said that it was still considering plans to start supplying South Korea with natural gas in 2012 or 2013 as part of its broader plan to build Russia’s first pipeline to Asia. Gazprom said the idea had been discussed at a meeting between Miller and executives of Korea Gas, a South Korean state-controlled energy company. A Gazprom statement quoted Miller as saying that Gazprom was considering supplying South Korea with 10 bcm of gas a year. Miller also said Gazprom was considering building both an onshore and an offshore pipeline to South Korea, implying that natural gas could come not only via China but also from Sakhalin. In the meantime, despite official claims otherwise, Gazprom may eventually join the Sakhalin-2 project. On October 16, Japan’s Mitsui and Mitsubishi reportedly voiced support for Gazprom’s possible participation in Sakhalin-2, according to Russian media reports. Former prime minister Sergei Stepashin, now head of the Russian Audit Chamber, said that Russian companies, notably Gazprom, could join the Sakhalin-2 project. He argued that such involvement would guarantee that the contract would be fulfilled on time (Ren TV, October 25).