Russian Election: Putin Back at Helm of Energy Empire

 
on March 05 2012 3:39 PM
Putin addresses crowd during rally
Vladimir Putin addresses a crowd during a campaign rally. Reuters

President-elect Vladimir Putin declared victory in Russia's presidential election Sunday at a time when his country's energy reserves are coveted by foreign companies looking to fatten their portfolios.

Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) , the No.  2 U.S. oil and natural gas company, was said to be in talks with Kremlin officials last week about possible oil exploration in Russia's Arctic waters.

Chevron would like to join the likes of BP PLC (NYSE: BP) and Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) in tapping into Russisan riches.

Under Russian law, only state companies are allowed to explore for offshore oil or gas. Putin, currently prime minister, said last week that he would consider getting the law changed in order to spur development.

When he returns to the presidency in two months, Putin, 59, will preside over an empire of natural resources that includes as much as 148 billion barrels of oil and 2.3 quadrillion cubic feet of gas that have yet to be discovered,, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates.

As president for the first time since 2008, Putin will be in charge at a time when energy politics could be about to shift away from Russia's sphere of influence.

Israel's large gas find in the Mediterranean Sea could become a resource for European powers to supplement imports typically supplied via Russian pipelines.

Israel has been working on establishing export quotas after a U.S. joint venture uncovered 35 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in offshore deposits. Shipments could start later this year

Russia has had a stranglehold on European gas consumption at times, even cutting off the flow to influence political decisions in its former Soviet bloc neighbors.

The Micex index that tracks the 30 most-liquid Russian stocks rose 1 percent Monday, as did the broader RTS. The price of crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 13 cents to $106.83 a barrel.

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