Is Gazprom Pushing East?: Exploring Gazprom's Behavioural Patterns in the Asian Market
Abstract: This article examines whether the Russian Eastern Energy Policy (EEP) corresponds to the widely shared perception that Russia uses energy resources as part of its domestic and foreign policy goals and to assess the role of Gazprom in Russia’s overall governmental strategy. For this purpose, we have developed an ideal energy policy model grounded in the theoretical premises of realism—a so-called strategic approach to energy security. We will specify major features of strategic behaviour and their manifestations in reality (indicators), which are then searched in the Russian EEP in general and in Sino-Russian gas supply negotiations in particular. Research has shown that the Russian EEP largely corresponds with the theoretical model. One distinctive feature of this policy includes strengthening the role of state in the energy sector through Russia’s state-owned energy companies, to the detriment of foreign players. The Russian government has also significantly interfered in Gazprom’s external energy policy, especially after Putin’s 2012 reelection. However, Moscow’s policy framework is not the only factor which affects the future direction of Gazprom, as the company cannot be considered to be solely an instrument of the Russian government. Despite governmental pressure during negotiations with China, Gazprom has repeatedly demonstrated its determination to gain adequate profits from projects running eastward. The company also took into account both its position vis-à-vis domestic and overseas rivals as well as negative consequences in case of loss of future markets, if negotiations with China would be unsuccessful.
Keywords: Russia, Eastern Energy Policy, Strategic Approach to Energy Security, Gazprom, Power of Siberia