At the beginning of the New Year 2015 Russian media as well as experts offered their forecasts. Rather dark for the energy sector, so crucial for the Russian economy, which “is entering a full-scale crisis”, as the former Minister of Finance Alexey Kudrin said recently.
The problem is evident to anyone and is confirmed at the highest levels of Russian governmental elite. During his interview to “Russia24” the Minister of Economic Development, Anton Siluanov, announced the Russian budget would be revised downwards by 2,6 thousand billion rubles in 2015, due to low oil prices and zero economic growth. Lack of understanding of how to face these challenges became clear from the annual press conference, held by President Putin on December 18th last year. He said that world economies “sooner or later will have to adapt themselves to low oil prices”.
Gas export policies are in turn questioned. Kommersant suggests Russia shift from “gas weapon” to “gas diplomacy”, since Russian gas as a “weapon” did not prevent Europe from imposing sanctions on Russia, nor could Russia use its full potential without further worsening its international image.
Russia has reduced its gas exports to the EU, Turkey and CIS by nearly 10% in 2014, reports Vedomosti.ru, quoting Bloomberg. Ukraine alone cut its gas imports from Russia by 44% last year, reports Naftogaz, and Russia risks to lose up to 80% of its market in Ukraine next year. Gazprom, however, affirms that a demand for gas exists and will exist in the future, noting that the European Union should clarify its energy policy regarding natural gas.