July 6, 2012
On June 21-23, 2012 the 16-th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum took place. In public participants concentrated on discussion of the Eurozone crisis consequences and scenarios of the world economy development. It was expected that the future of the Shtokman field which is strategic for Gazprom would be disclosed at the forum. We remind that, it is situated in the Russian part of the Barents Sea shelf. Deposits make up 3,9 trillion cubic meters of gas and about 56 million tons of gas condensate. A company-operator “Shtokman Development AG” was created for the realization of the project. The main shareholders are: Gazprom (51%), French “Total” (25%) and Norwegian “Statoil” (24%).
At the forum the deputy chairman of the Gazprom’s board O.Medvedev only declared that the scheme of realization of the Shtokman project will be changed. The validity of the shareholders’ agreement of partners has ended on July 1 this year. A dispute between foreign shareholders got on the way of plans realization. And it looks like exactly thanks to efforts of “Total” and “Statoil” gas production is again postponed for an indefinite term.
Back in 2007 “Gazprom” planned to begin extraction before 2013. Investments made up around 30 billion dollars. At that time it was planned to sell gas in the form of LNG to the US market. However, the present conjuncture of the world gas market and US intentions to export LNG to Europe have changed plans of Gazprom. Appeals to direct a half of future Shtokman gas to Gazprom’s gas pipelines started to be voiced more loudly.
It is clear to all shareholders that it is necessary to change the concept of the project. Binding to markets of both Europe and Asia will be defining in determination of a new business model. Besides, the countries of the Near East continue to apply pressure on the contract Russian gas by their own LNG at the European market. However, a formula with many unknown can be found here as well. The main question is where to and what sort of gas will come from the Shtokman?
Means for the project have already been spent, and the extraction, taking into account all technological features, is postponed at least till 2018. The budget of “Shtokman Development AG” was about 1,5 billion dollars, the half of which was contributed by “Gazprom”. The liquidation of the present company-operator and the creation of a new legal entity with new shareholders won’t resolve the situation. Moreover, it can cast a shade on the foreign partners of “Gazprom”. After all the amount of lost investment of “Total” and “Statoil” is not the sum that matches up with the future profits from U.S. export of LNG to Europe and Americans sure will be ready to share the obtained for getting quite specific advantage in time.
The nimiety of the situation of five years’ uncertainty with the Shtokman is a too expensive pleasure, which can also testify of the foreign partners’ interest in postponement of the project realization. The world LNG market develops dynamically and nobody is going to wait for Russia. Therefore, we should expect a rigid and clear position on the Shtokman project in the manner of the president of Russia.
Author : Ivan Matiyeshyn