Russia is Starting 2014 in a Strong Natural Gas Position

From Platts

By William Powell

Relations between the European Union and Russia tend to see-saw, with neither side able to maintain its dominance for long. Where natural gas is concerned, the past few years have seen Gazprom on its  back foot.

The European Commission’s probe into Gazprom’s oil indexed contracts, its insistence on the move from border toward hub trading, and the compulsory unbundling of supply from transportation affecting Gazprom’s joint ventures in Europe were all furiously challenged by the Kremlin, but so far with no effect.

As the new year gets under way, though, the picture is looking very different, with Russia winning on several fronts.

First, what promised to be a major coup for the European Union–wooing Ukraine away from the Kremlin’s sphere of influence–turned sour in the closing days of 2013, as Moscow eased Kiev’s main gripe: high natural gas prices.

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