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Russia and world energy architecture
16.04.07
MOSCOW. (Igor Tomberg for RIA Novosti) –

Russia declared global energy security the key issue of its G8 Presidency in 2006. Lack of common interpretation of this term immediately impeded mutual understanding between different groups of countries.
Consumer countries view energy security as security of supplies, that is, stable and reliable energy supplies at reasonable prices. For energy exporters, energy security means reliable demand that implies a search for guarantees of stable markets.
A major energy consumer, and global exporter of oil and gas, Russia has suggested that the world community should resolve energy problems by concerted effort. It is essential to overcome the supply-and-demand imbalance; all countries should make commitments with a voluntary division of gains and risks; it is necessary to build a global energy structure that would prevent conflict situations.
In the global energy market, Moscow is working for energy security as both a consumer and supplier. As a consumer, Russia wants to guarantee energy supplies for its own economy. In this context, it is working on a whole number of major domestic problems, such as:
– liberalization of the domestic gas market, including Gazprom’s shares, stock exchange trade in gas, access of gas producers (other than Gazprom) to the system of gas mains;
– expansion of gas cooperation with Central Asian countries, which largely supply Russia’s southern regions;
– active efforts to replenish oil and gas resources. For this reason shift of emphasis in geological work and exploration to Eastern Siberia;
– fundamental reform of power engineering with a view to creating a reliable and effective system of electricity supplies for the economy and the utilities sector;
– a considerable change in the fuel priorities in electric power engineering – a reduced share of gas in the energy balance should be made up for by a higher proportion of coal and oil products;
– large-scale organizational efforts and investment into the nuclear power industry.
The projects initiated or implemented by Russia as a major supplier of energy resources in the global market are more noticeable. It is important for Russia to guarantee uninterrupted hydrocarbon supplies of its traditional partners, and to secure demand for its products. Russian projects in this sphere deal with diversification of markets and development of corresponding transport infrastructure.
The energy strategy’s vector is shifting to the East. Major projects, which testify to this, include building an oil pipeline to link Eastern Siberia with the Pacific, gas pipelines in the direction of China, the Korean peninsular and Japan; and the construction of a LNG (liquefied natural gas) plant on the island of Sakhalin.
Russia is trying to reduce its dependence on transit countries by choosing bypassing routes for hydrocarbon delivery. A bright case in point is the start of the construction of the Nord Stream gas pipeline on the Baltic Sea. The plans to bypass Belarus by building an extra leg are still in the early stages and require solid feasibility studies. The same applies to the project for building Blue Stream-2 and the extension of the network towards Southern Europe. A project for the construction of underground gas depots is making steady headway in the countries of Southern and Central Europe.
Russia views participation of its companies in supplying end users as a major factor in securing the demand for its hydrocarbons at fair prices. For the time being, the attempts of Gazprom and other Russian companies to acquire European energy or distribution companies encounter serious political resistance. Although they have achieved certain progress on this road, they have to exert great efforts to replace the investment-for-resources principle with the investment-for-investment idea. In other words, Western companies will get access to Russian resources only in exchange for access of Russian firms to the energy distribution sector.
The latter factor points to the big role of politics in the implementation of any energy project. For this reason, Russia has to pay great attention to the political component of energy security. It is developing energy dialogue with Europe, the United States, China, India and several other Asian countries. Russia is also expanding cooperation with many hydrocarbon suppliers, such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria, Libya, and Qatar, in coordinating prices and developing markets and infrastructure projects.
Eventually, the growing mutual dependence of Russia and the world energy market is compelling Moscow to work for a fair and acceptable-for-all system of global energy security.

Dr. Igor Tomberg is a leading research associate of the Center for Energy Studies at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, the Russian Academy of Sciences.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.-0-