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GAZPROM THUMBS ITS NOSE AT EUROPE

China becomes Russia's biggest single customer as massive pipeline goes live

Four years ago, Europe was Russia’s largest energy importer, and the bulk of that business was pipeline gas from Gazprom. Then came the Crimea Crisis, and Russia’s relations with Ukraine and Europe took a turn for the worse.

By June 2014, Gazprom was turning off the taps to Ukraine, despite much of Europe’s supply being routed through Ukraine territory. It was only a matter of time before the EU, with Germany in the lead, began to look for alternate sources, to avoid being held to ransom by Gazprom.

Slowly but surely, Europe began to wean itself off Russian gas. But Gazprom wasn’t that naïve, and had been actively seeking clients in Asia. China and Japan have an almost infinite appetite for gas, and Russia is the natural source.

The gas deal with China was openly on the table for years, and now the first phase of a massive supply line has been opened, sending 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas to China each year.

Further phases will see the annual capacity expanding to 72 billion cubic meters. China has a target of up to 420 billion cubic meters a year by 2020, developing its own shale resources and helping Myanmar and Russia to double their supplies.

Gazprom is grinning like a dancing bear. “Who needs Europe?” remarked their marketing chief. “We can’t supply Asia fast enough!”

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