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Working paper / Gas

Between a rock and a hard place: International market dynamics, domestic politics and Gazprom’s strategy

Author(s): BELYI Andrei, GOLDTHAU Andreas

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ABSTRACT

Gazprom, Russian's prime state owned gas producer, is facing severe pressure stemming from international gas market dynamics, EU regulation and the Ukraine crisis. Slowing gas demand coupled with shifting pricing models and a persisting transit issue pose significant challenges for Gazprom's business going forward. Domestic pressure emerges from competition arising from private companies, mainly Notatek, but also state owned rival Rosneft, and is reinforced by governmental moves toward more market oriented Russian gas sector organization. Gazprom's options include pivoting to alternative markets, notably China; reverting to international legal bodies and market principles to counter EU regulatory pressures; and to depoliticize gas trade in order to generate long term expectations on its prime market - Europe. We pose that neither of these options is likely to fully solve Gazprom's dilemma, whose competitive position will arguably further weaken both domestically and internationally. We believe that Gazprom's best option would be to aim for depoliticizing gas trade, by way of giving up its de facto monopoly on gas exports to Europe.