Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

My week in the media

by Jerome a Paris Thu Feb 9th, 2006 at 05:04:21 PM EST

It's been a momentous week with the Russian-Ukrainian gas kerfuffle, and my articles here on this topic have attracted some attention. So here's the follow up from the media... The biggest disappointment is that none of the articles have mentioned European Tribune, despite specific requests from me on how to present me. A banker is presumably more respectable as a source than a blogger...

Here's the Google summary to start with.

First, there was the NYT on Wednesday (also carried in the International Herald Tribune): Russia and Ukraine Reach Compromise on Natural Gas (Andrew Kramer)

Operating under various names, it was one of many subsidiaries, daughter companies and joint ventures that tapped into the then poorly audited revenue flows of Gazprom, analysts who follow the company say. When Mr. Putin brought new management to Gazprom, many of the schemes dried up. But the Ukrainian middlemen stayed in business.

Ukraine's national security service investigated RosUkrEnergo last summer for allegations of ties to organized crime. The security agency's former director, Oleksandr Turchinov, has told the Ukrainian news media that he pressed President Viktor A. Yushchenko to prosecute but instead was removed from his job.

Former executives at Gazprom and Naftogaz have held interests in RosUkrEnergo, according to Jérôme Guillet, a Paris-based banker and authority on Gazprom's business practices. "The names change every year, but it's always been the same mechanism," he said in a telephone interview. "You have a huge trade with hundreds of millions of dollars being captured by a small number of people."

The French paper La Tribune also quoted me on Thursday, but I have not been able to find an electronic version of the article (I do have a photocopy of this one...)

Moscou désamorce en urgence le conflit du gaz (Emmanuel GRYNSZPAN)

Certain experts rappellent toutefois que l'issue de la crise ne doit pas faire oublier l'extrême opacité des transactions gazières entre la Russie et l'Ukraine, qui ont cours depuis le début des années 90. "Les schémas 'turkmènes' sont particulièrement opaques et leur objectif n'est pas la maximisation des prix, mais la maximisation des revenus des quelques individus qui contrôlent les flux", estime Jérôme Guillet, un banquier spécialiste de l'Ukraine.

Some experts note that the resolution of the crisis should not hide the lack of transparency of the gas transactions between Russia and Ukraine since the early 90s. "The 'Turkmen' schemes are especially murky and their goal is not to maximise prices, but to maximise income for the small number of people who control the gas flows", says Jérôme Guillet, a banker familiar with Ukraine.

Then on Friday, I was interviewed (live) on Chicago Public Radio. Go here and there's a link to listen to me (I haven't listened yet, any feedback welcome...)

Today, it's back to the NYT Europe Comes to Terms With Need for Russian Gas (Mark Landler)

In the end, few experts here believe that Europe is in genuine danger of having Russia turn off the tap. The European market is too vital for Russia, and both sides have already invested too much in the plants and pipes that carry the gas. Managing the relationship is the issue.

"Pipelines are like kids in a marriage," said Jérôme Guillet, a French banker and an expert in natural gas. "The seller cannot sell his gas elsewhere; the buyer cannot buy gas elsewhere. The two sides are welded together."

Such marriages work best, the realists argue, when both partners have no illusions about changing the other.

I gave them my map, but I don't know if they used it. If anyone has the paper version of the paper, I'd be curious to know if there was anything more in there alongside this article...

Finally, I was also interviewed by a UK business magazine, called "Business" (Putin and the new cold war - Who got burned in the great gas war? (Ben Aris and Richard Orange)

The pipeline shutdown gave the West a short, sharp shock, and there was much relief when a deal was struck on prices with Ukraine a few days later and supplies were restored. Thus the dispute could also be seen as a high-risk move by Putin to bring a revenue-destructive gas subsidy from its Soviet days on to a market footing.

Some believe the move was motivated by something more sinister. Jérôme Guillet, a French banker who has worked closely with Gazprom, said: "There is a story behind this deal as most of the negotiations go on behind the scenes and what we see in public is only ever a small part of the iceberg.

"Gas transit is the biggest source of loot on offer. It looks like Yushchenko has been trying to clean up but that new people are attempting to barge into the business. They have caused the public row in an effort to embarrass the president."

The only clear winner from last week's deal is a company called RosUkrEnergo, which has been promoted to "exclusive distributor" of Russian gas to Ukraine. The deal will see its sales nearly double from 40bn cubic metres to 77bcm as a result. Although it is a 50/50 joint venture between Gazprom and Ukraine, no one really knows who owns the Ukrainian half, which is controlled by Swiss registered holding companies in nominee accounts of Austria's Raiffeisen Zentralbank Oesterreich.

The draft agreement between Russia and Ukraine also creates another intermediary to handle the imports from Russia, jointly operated by RosUkrEnergo and jointly owned with the Ukrainian national gas company Naftogaz.

One western gas executive who works with Gazprom and Naftogaz said: "Something very fishy is going on here as Gazprom has further diluted its share of the profits it gets from selling gas to Ukraine. It looks very much like someone behind the scenes was blocking a compromise unless they were cut in on the deal. Gazprom only owns half of RosUkrEnergo, which means it owns half of a half of the profits this new intermediary will earn. Someone was making a lot of money before. Now they are going to make even more."

I have also been interviewed by Newsweek, but haven't seen their article yet, so I don't know if they are quoting me or not. I'll update accordingly.

This all followed my articles here, so I'll just repost the links here for convenience:

Russian-Ukrainian gas deal - what's behind it? (Jan. 4)
Russian gas cuts - why there is no need to worry (Jan. 2)
 Ukraine vs Russia: Tales of pipelines and dependence (Dec. 30)
A pipeline is like a marriage with kids (Dec. 16)

as well as earlier texts not from Eurotrib.

Russia, Ukraine, Oil, US Diplomacy - All in One (21 January 2005)
Fix Gazprom's Fatal Leak (WSJ, 31 May 2002) (item 11 in link)
Some thoughts on Gazprom (30 March 2002)

Many congratulations, Jérôme!  See?  Now that you're all famous, I'm being more careful about the accents and stuff!

Seriously, though, this is excellent!  I'm really glad you posted the diary.  Now I'm off to see if I can hear your radio interview.  I'm very happy for you!!

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jan 8th, 2006 at 07:38:46 PM EST
Congratulations Jerome. Well done. It has been a time when knowledge that you have worked hard to gather was utilised and well disseminated. That's what it's all about.

Atlantic Free Press
by ghandi (expatforums@gmail.com) on Sun Jan 8th, 2006 at 07:57:52 PM EST
Regarding your comment on getting ET mentioned when you are quoted--you mentioned that reporters like a banker rather than a blogger.  I wonder if there might be some alternative ways to present yourself in those settings.  I'm not suggesting deceit, but rather a manner of presentation that would be more acceptable to them.  For example, Jerome Guillet, Managing Director <some title you felt comfortable with> of the European Tribune, an Internet News Agency (and then further along in the discussion) an agency dedicated to European News and topical discussion from Worldwide Contributors <I've given this actual mission statement very little thought,,,but just show it as an example to be developed--obviously you don't want to deceive, but blogging does have a non-professional image to some people, but what we mean by blogging is actually pretty deep (at least some of it), and describing it without the word blog might make it more acceptable.....just a somewhat inchoate thought.
by wchurchill on Sun Jan 8th, 2006 at 08:59:50 PM EST
and congratulations, BTW.  That was nice coverage of your thoughts.
by wchurchill on Sun Jan 8th, 2006 at 09:00:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
perhaps you could stipulate that they put the url to ET next to your name, or at the foot of the article so that people who wanted to could further explore your writings....and get a clue about blogs!

congrats jerome, between your son, your job, and the reading and writing, i think you must have discovered some quantum way to compress more hours in the day!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 03:05:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
this sounds like a better, and less complicated, idea than mine.  if they would accept the stipulation.
by wchurchill on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 03:15:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I did suggest it, but so far they did not take up the idea, sadly.

As to the time issue: I sleep less these days! And I read much fewer books than I used to.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 03:49:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ahhhh Jérôme Guillet, what an orator! (I just listened to the audio feed, in which you are introduced as a banker with Gazprom experience, who's written numerous times about this issue, in such publications as the European Tribune - yes yes, they say it)

Apart from concluding that you choose your words well, I can also safely say that your accent in English is a mix between British, American, French and German. A very interesting mix! (but with a dominant French strain).

by Alex in Toulouse on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 08:33:40 AM EST
Sidenote on Yushchenko - something I forgot to add in the old thread where you wrote the same words:

If I remember correctly, Yushchenko used the corruption affair of a minister who was his own ally to dismiss Tymoshemko with her government. So I am not at all certain that Yushchenko wants a clean-up - rather than being an ally of this or that new player on the Ukrainian side who was pushing for a larger share of the cake.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 08:55:45 AM EST
The only things that make me mention the possibility of a clean up is that (i) Yushenko used to have a reputation for being clean back in the late 90s when he was at the central bank (but then he was a PM for Kuchma, so it may not have lasted) and (ii) he was obviously targetted by the cuts as president of Ukraine.

But it's equally (or more) likely that he was trying to get in (or get allies in) the gas trade business...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 09:04:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent work, Jerome...watch out, soon there will be coming a new wave of readers at ET!!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 09:36:05 AM EST
I also say amen to great guru of this site...never more proudly so.

Great take on gas....beatifully perfect...la leche vamos.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 10:19:12 AM EST

I gave them my map, but I don't know if they used it. If anyone has the paper version of the paper, I'd be curious to know if there was anything more in there alongside this article...

The article, listed as a "news analysis" or kind of a think piece, showed up on page 6 of the NYT suburban print edition, along with a Bosnian peacekeeper story and  a Chase bank ad. No pics or charts.

Congrats on the media attention.  It's impossible to get your name in the "grey lady", don't worry about your listed credentials, it's a coup to be a times "expert" at all.

by dmun on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 10:50:15 AM EST
Major congrats, Jerome.  Nice to see the press paying attention, as well.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 11:36:52 AM EST
Ok, this is embarassing.  I listen to Chicago public radio at work, as white noise, each day.

I was listenning to you and didn't even know it was you!!!  You've gotta give me more of a heads up on this stuff. :)

P.S. Worldview is an excellent program. I had a fun e-mail dialogue with the host during the run up to the war.  What's up with rockin' guys named Jerome???

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 12:44:32 PM EST
Btw, do you know this old cartoon about bloggers, by Cox and Forkum (whose general editorial line, by the way, I am at odds with):

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Jan 10th, 2006 at 02:27:02 PM EST
Congratulations Jerome. You are becoming an international business celebrity!! What a fantastic and well reasoned voice. Now a picture, of you, for us here at ET, would round out who the person of the brilliant Jerome is.

And on a serious note, a deeply felt thank you for making Energy Company convolutions so simple, and understandable. I sincerely appreciate all the work you do. It is both clear and educating to learn about a business that effects all of our lives so closely and dramatically.

"A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within." Cicero

by Grandma M on Tue Jan 10th, 2006 at 04:33:43 PM EST
I think he has posted at least two pictures of himself... There's certainly the one of him and Colman in Paris.

Clicking on the picture will automagically transport you to the Open Thread where it was originally posted.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2006 at 04:37:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you Migeru. Love the way you always respond to me.

My insatiable curiosity satisfied. Jerome looks like his voice sounds.

"A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within." Cicero

by Grandma M on Wed Jan 11th, 2006 at 12:50:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I got some mail...

Attn: Jerome Guillet,
Dear Sir,

Thanks for the opportunity I have to have read about you and your article in the John's Russia List.

My name is Mr Sylvester Mafiana Jr., a Nigerian by Nationality and a businessman who is involved in Oil & Gas Marketing and Consultancy services.

I picked the interest write to solicit your assistance, if only you can assist to link me up to reputable Russian/Ukrain Oil exporters which I can contact and establish good mutual business relationship with.

As a matter of my understanding that you are versatile in this area of Economic activity, hence I have written you and knowing fully well you are a very good veteran journalist.

Please if their is any way you can be of assistance to me, I will truly appreciate it while await your swift reply.

Best regards,
Sylvester Mafiana Jr  

How funny is that?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 11th, 2006 at 05:48:54 PM EST

Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]

Top Diaries