I might have some more comment on this later. I have been busy this weekend with new bundle of joy matters so I haven't been around here much.
Dear Scott - Your comments describing the Ukraine-Russia gas crisis are most interesting and quite sobering. As I see it Ukraine has a [semi] monopoly position as a transit country, and Russia is a [semi] monopoly supplier, so the situation is developing into a high stakes poker game, the prize being the Ukrainian gas transit system. Are we as close to gas supply disruption as your piece suggests? Curtailment of gas supply, even if temporary, to many high volume gas consuming industrial processes, particularly continous processes, can be disastrous.
European consumers have supply contracts with Gazprom, and not with Ukrainian companies, so wouldn't they be legally liable for losses incurred due to non delivery of gas, rather than Ukrainian companies? As you say the vituperative statements emerging from Gazprom and the rest must be unnerving the Europeans too. Nobody likes as bully and a blackmailer.
My guess is that for the moment Russia has too much to loose by reducing gas shipment through Ukrainian pipelines, and Ukraine has too much to loose if it starts
reducing throughput of gas, so this is going to drag on for a while.
Some commentators say that Putin is trying to influence next Spring's VR elections. Would he be so crude as to suggest, 'Vote for Yanuk, and you'll get cheap gas, vote for the others, and you pay 'top whack' for gas'. I don't think so. I think he knows that he has already lost Ukraine. Akhmetov and the rest must be just as worried about steep gas price increases, as everyone else. Their effects would be felt particularly hard in Eastern Ukraine - Yanuk's home turf. I think that the local populus would feel doubly betrayed by Russia if their factories were closed and domestic radiators were cold this winter.
Monday, December 19, 2005
Some other good gas analysis
Here's some very good analysis of the gas problem here by a commenter to the last blog post of mine. I thought it should be up here on its own.