SPIEGEL Interview with Gazprom Chief Alexei Miller
'We Are Only Serving Our Customers' Demand for Russian Gas'SPIEGEL: The link to the oil price has nothing to do with financial capitalism. If there's more gas than oil, then the price should really go down.
Miller: Not true. Because then gas will have to replace the oil.
SPIEGEL: We've always been taught that the price is determined according to supply and demand.
Miller: During the financial crisis we experienced a lot of things that no one had ever been taught. The world and Europe were shaken to such an extent that they still haven't got over it even today. So your teachers weren't that smart.
SPIEGEL: Still, you have to insist on the link to the oil price so that your investments will add up. Why, in addition to the Baltic Sea pipeline and at a cost of up to €24 billion, are you building the South Stream pipeline, another East-West pipeline that's due to start deliveries of gas to southern Europe via the Black Sea in 2015?
Miller: Both pipelines fall fully in line with our strategy, which, incidentally, is fully in line with that of the European Union, namely to diversify the transportation of gas. Nord Stream and South Stream create new transport corridors to Europe. Currently, up to 80 percent of Russian gas goes via Ukraine. As the Russian proverb says: "Don't put all your eggs in one basket".
SPIEGEL: We have the same proverb in Western Europe, too. That's why Europeans are supporting the alternative Nabucco pipeline project -- also as a counterweight to Gazprom.
Miller: We have absolutely nothing against Nabucco.
SPIEGEL: But you're doing everything you can to torpedo it. South Stream and Nabucco want to source gas from the same region, from countries such as Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan. It costs Gazprom more to buy gas in Azerbaijan than it does to produce it yourselves in Russia. You likely want to cut off Nabucco's supply from the outset.
Miller: No, what we actually want to do is supply the southern Russian regions bordering Azerbaijan. We currently send gas from the Yamal Peninsula in the north of Russia to Europe for a greater profit than sending it to the south of Russia itself would bring in.
SPIEGEL: It will be difficult for the Nabucco consortium to fill a pipeline if you buy up gas for use in South Stream.
Miller: As with the Baltic Sea pipeline, we first sell the gas, then we extract it and then we deliver it. We won't be competition for anyone with the 63 billion cubic meters we want annually for South Stream. We are only serving our customers' demand for Russian gas. But we certainly won't build a pipeline and only then start thinking about what to do with such and such an amount of gas.
SPIEGEL: That's all well and good for South Stream and Gazprom, but
it leaves Nabucco empty.
Miller: If the Europeans want a Nabucco pipeline, they should build it. We have nothing against the idea. Nabucco is their problem. Our job is to deliver our gas to our customers as stipulated in our contracts.
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