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AssessmentsApr 16, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A pumpjack outside the Russian city of Surgut.
The Golden Age of Russian Oil Nears an End
Russia's easily accessible oil reserves have long been the cornerstone of its economy. But these conventional fields are depleting, leading to the need to invest and expand into more untapped sources. This transformation will not be easy or cheap, as various factors have led to a poorly optimized oil sector that's ill-equipped to soften the blow of rising costs. The key to maintaining a strong energy market, and securing the capital needed to develop new and expensive fields, will instead rest on whether Moscow can secure its foothold in China's increasingly oil-hungry market. In any case, Russia may have little choice but to accept that its glory days of oil dominance and high profit margins are nearing an end. 
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AssessmentsDec 30, 2019 | 10:00 GMT
A natural gas line runs outside Donetsk, Ukraine, on March 11, 2015.
A New Gas Transit Deal Won't Keep Ukraine and Russia Together for Long
For the short term at least, Ukrainians and Europeans won't have to worry about shelling out more to heat their homes this winter. An eleventh-hour extension to an energy transit agreement will guarantee the continued flow of natural gas from Russia to Europe through Ukraine over the next five years, but there is little indication that the current deal will presage longer-term cooperation between Moscow and Kyiv. Indeed, lingering distrust between the two capitals will lead Ukraine down the path of producing its own natural gas to achieve self-sufficiency in the longer term, while Russia will strive to shift shipments to pipelines in the Baltic and Black seas that don't present as much of a political nuisance. Ultimately, the emergence of other transit routes will reduce the calming effect that natural gas transit deals have had on the two countries' larger political disputes over hot-button issues like Crimea, eastern Ukraine
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AssessmentsNov 6, 2019 | 10:30 GMT
This photo from Feb. 25, 2017, shows the construction site of the second mooring facility of the Yamal LNG plant in the village of Sabetta.
Russia's Arctic Dreams Remain on Ice
The Russian Arctic is warming, but the Kremlin's dreams for the region remain in the deep freeze. Since planting its flag on the seafloor at the North Pole in 2007, Moscow has reinforced its territorial claims in the Arctic by increasing its military presence and bolstering its icebreaker fleet. But Russia's progress in making use of the Arctic's mineral and hydrocarbon resources and unlocking the rest of the region's economic potential is stalling. Strapped for cash, Moscow is putting the onus for developing Arctic infrastructure almost entirely on private and state-owned entities. Unsurprisingly, corporations have been reluctant to foot the bill for such large, upfront investments, meaning progress has become bogged down as the sides haggle over tax breaks or financial support. In the end, cost, feasibility and the like could well put paid to Russia's hopes of scoring an Arctic windfall.
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AssessmentsSep 13, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
This photo shows the pipeline-laying vessel Castoro 10 working on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project.
Russia and Ukraine Seek a Contentious New Gas Transit Deal
Representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the European Union are set to meet Sept. 19 in Brussels to begin negotiations over a new agreement on the transit of Russian gas to Europe through Ukraine. The current agreement, reached in 2009 only after tough negotiations resulting in a temporary cutoff of gas flows to Europe, expires Dec. 31. European and Ukrainian elections delayed the start of the upcoming talks, limiting the amount of time for a new deal to be struck before the old one lapses. Even without the time pressure, these negotiations would have been difficult, meaning talks could hit an impasse, and if they do, natural gas cutoffs could possibly result.
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Contributor PerspectivesSep 12, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
This June 29, 2015, file image shows the start of construction of the China-Russia east-route natural gas pipeline near Heihe, China.
In Russia's Pivot to Asia, Economic Attraction Lags Hard Power
Russia held the fifth Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok, its main Far Eastern city on its Pacific coast, on Sept. 4-6. The forum has been held annually since 2015 to showcase Moscow's commitment to the development of its vast Far Eastern areas and closer economic links with Asia. Russia's "turn to the East" began more than a decade ago. In December 2006, Putin convened a meeting of the Kremlin's Security Council, where it was decided to prioritize the development of the Russian Far East, a huge landmass stretching from the Trans-Baikal region to the Pacific Ocean. At this meeting, Putin invoked Russia's perennial fear of losing its Asian periphery, stressing that the underdevelopment of the country's sparsely populated but resource-rich Far East posed "a grave threat to our political and economic positions in Asia and the Pacific, and to the national security of Russia as a whole." The 2008 global financial crisis helped convince the Kremlin that the center of economic
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SITUATION REPORTSep 5, 2019 | 15:57 GMT
Russia: Shareholders Give Final Approval for LNG Development Project in the Arctic
Russian energy firm Novatek and other global oil companies have approved the final investment decision for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant on Russia's Gydan Peninsula, World Oil reported Sept. 5. Meanwhile, the shareholders of the Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project are looking to construct an LNG plant in Russia's Far Eastern port of De-Kastri.
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AssessmentsJul 17, 2019 | 10:00 GMT
A worker constructs a section of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline near Kingisepp, Russia.
Despite Looming U.S. Sanctions, the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline Will Likely Proceed
For the first time, U.S. President Donald Trump directly acknowledged that Washington was, in fact, considering sanctioning Nord Stream 2 on June 12. This comes less than a month after U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry warned that a U.S. sanctions bill targeting the project could come into effect in the "not too distant future." These statements could mean the White House is seriously considering a proposed sanctions bill that, if fully imposed, would have the power to essentially grind construction a screeching halt. However, such a move would risk angering Germany at a time when the White House is trying to sway Berlin on a number of other important issues, including increasing its defense spending and barring Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei from rolling out its 5G network. Thus, the United States is more likely to stick with a more middle-of-the-ground approach that still throws a wrench in the project's timeline, without completely killing it. 
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SITUATION REPORTApr 15, 2019 | 15:58 GMT
EU: Council Approves EU Gas Directive Amendment
The Council of the European Union has adopted an amendment to the new EU gas directive, which will be presented to member states for implementation, according to an April 15 press release. The directive will extend the same EU regulations for pipelines within the bloc to import pipelines, such as Nord Stream 2, which would force Gazprom to accept a lower permitted ownership share.
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SnapshotsFeb 8, 2019 | 21:20 GMT
EU: Germany Might Take the Lead in Negotiations With Russia on Nord Stream 2
The Council of the European Union on Feb. 8 approved new rules on offshore energy pipelines originating in non-EU member states. The European Parliament will now consider the Franco-German compromise measure, which assigns negotiating authority over pipeline rules and exemptions to the country where the duct's first interconnector is located.
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AssessmentsJan 21, 2019 | 10:00 GMT
Supporters of Armenian Nikol Pashinian celebrate in Yerevan's Republic Square on May 8, 2018. Pashinian would go on to become prime minister.
What the Chill in Russian-Armenian Relations Means
When it comes to former Soviet countries, few states have remained closer to Russia than Armenia. The Caucasus country hosts 5,000 Russian troops at the 102nd military base in Gyumri, while Russia wields substantial influence over most of Armenia's strategic economic sectors, from energy pipelines to telecommunications. Russia is also Armenia's largest trade partner -- accounting for 25 percent of total trade -- and it is the largest destination for Armenian migrant workers, whose remittances account for 10 percent of their country's gross domestic product. Yerevan is also a member of both the Eurasian Economic Union and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Moscow's primary mechanisms for integrating the countries of the former Soviet Union. Recent political shifts in Armenia, however, have thrown the traditionally strong relationship between Yerevan and Moscow into question – raising the possibility that other powers near and far could step in to fill any breach.
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