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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, and are convinced that Gazprom will deliver. 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 out-competed in an important market, there is little reason for such events to have any impact on our security of supply, quite the contrary.

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 generally not be allowed to cut deliveries to delinquent customers?

Even supposing Gazprom might, at some point in the future, be unwilling or unable to fulfill contracted deliveries of gas to Europe, shouldn't we focus on our own demand for gas, which we can control, rather than on increasingly frantic and costly efforts to secure an ever growing supply, as if we considered it our right to have unlimited cheap oil&gas at our disposal? It's time to accept geological and political reality: we have no such right. Opinion-shaping headlines like yours, blaming that situation on unfriendly or unpopular foreign governments, are an imprudent and irresponsible distraction from the real solutions in our hands.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 07:57:17 AM EST
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