Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Russians, oil and Venezuela

Gazprom has decided to give back the license for oil exploration in the Urumaco II area. They are backpedaling from oil projects in Cuba and Ecuadorean Guinea as well. Gazprom apparently spent about 300 million dollars in exploration work in Venezuela and the Devil's Excrement didn't pop up as expected. The Urumaco II block is part of the Rafael Urdaneta project (Rafal Urdaneta's the name of an old military, what else?) in the Gulf of Venezuela. You can read about that here (in Russian). This announcement, from documents about their decisions from 2013, shouldn't be a surprise. Gazprom had already said a long time ago they were abandoning that field.

The statements about Gazprom's losses, by the way, came last year from Igor Sechin, former Portuguese interpreter for the Soviet forces in Africa and KGB man, one of Putin's best friends and one of the men who was recently placed on a US list of sanctions for Russia's actions in Ukraine. Sechin is Rosneft's chef, not Gazprom's boss but he had explained those things in his capacity as vice-president of Russia. You can read some about the relationship between these companies in the Economist. Bloomberg offers a detailed portray of Rosneft's role in Russia today and quite some insight into Sechin's mind.

Oil prices have been rather stable for the last 3 years at a level 800% higher than in 1998. That is bad for a country that has become so dependent on oil that it needs ever higher oil prices to grow.

No El Dorado

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