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Dear Sir,

The headline of this week-end's edition of the Financial Times ("Gazprom plans Africa gas grab") is sensationalist and can only be described as unjustified scaremongering.

In the context of complaints that State-owned energy companies are not investing enough to increase oil&gas production, we should be glad that Gazprom is willing to spend its riches to develop gas production in Nigeria. Given that the industry works on the basis of very long term contracts usually under English law, Gazprom could only invest provided that European gas buyers have agreed to price and delivery terms. In addition, given that production is under the physical control of Nigerian authorities, and transport by LNG tankers protected by international law, Russia would then have very little political control over such gas. While Western oil companies and bankers may not be happy to be crowded out of an important market, there is little reason for such events to have any impact on our security of supply.

More troubling is the suggestion that Gazprom has ever cut gas deliveries to countries that were paying market prices and on time, and saying otherwise, however often, still does not make it true. Or are you suggesting that gas companies should not be allowed to cut deliveries to delinquent customers?

In any case, and admitting for a second that Gazprom might be unwilling or unable to make contracted deliveries of gas to Europe at some point in the future, shouldn't the solution be focused on what we can actually control, ie our own demand for gas, rather than going through increasingly complex and costly motions to ensure an ever growing supply of gas? We seem to live in a world where we expect as a basic right to have plentiful and cheap oil&gas at our disposal. It's high time to realise that, for geological and political reasons, this is no longer the case. Headlines like yours, which cannot but shape public perceptions, make it sound that the only problem comes from hostile governments in places like Russia and are an imprudent distraction from the real issue.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 01:15:03 PM EST
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