Walter Russell Mead, April 25, 2012 (Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College, Henry A. Kissinger senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and Editor-at-Large of The American Interest magazine), , The American Interest, North American Shale Gas Gives Russia Serious Headache,http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2012/04/25/north-american-shale-gas-gives-russia-serious-headache/
North America’s shale gas boom is chipping away at the market for gas producers like Russia.What’s more, if the United States becomes a gas exporter, Russia’s customers (especially in Europe) could decide to cancel expensive contracts with Gazprom in favor of cheaper American natural gas. “If the US starts exporting LNG to Europe and Asia, it gives [customers there] an argument to renegotiate their prices with Gazprom and Qatar, and they willdo it,” says Jean Abiteboul, head of Cheniere supply & marketing. Gazprom supplied 27 percent of Europe’s natural gas in 2011. While American gas is trading below $2 per MMBTU (million British thermal units), Gazprom’s prices are tied to crude oil markets, and its long-term contracts charge customers roughly $13 per MMBTU, says the FT. European customers would love to reduce their dependence on Gazprom and start to import American gas. Already Gazprom has had to make concessions to its three biggest customers, and others are increasingly dissatisfied with their contracts. Worse, from Russia’s point of view: evidence that western and central Europe contain substantial shale gas reserves of their own. Fracking is unpopular in thickly populated, eco-friendly Europe, but so are high gas prices. All this ought to give Russia serious heartburn. Eroding Gazprom’s dominance of the European energy market would be a major check on Russian economic growth and political influence.
Russian econ collapse causes extinction
Filger 9 (Sheldon, Columnist and Founder – Global EconomicCrisis.com, “Russian Economy Faces Disasterous Free Fall Contraction”, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sheldon-filger/russian-economy-faces-dis_b_201147.html)
In Russia, historically, economic health and political stability are intertwined to a degree that is rarely encountered in other major industrialized economies. It was the economic stagnation of the former Soviet Union that led to its political downfall. Similarly, Medvedev and Putin, both intimately acquainted with their nation's history, are unquestionably alarmed at the prospect that Russia's economic crisis will endanger the nation's political stability, achieved at great cost after years of chaos following the demise of the Soviet Union. Already, strikes and protests are occurring among rank and file workers facing unemployment or non-payment of their salaries. Recent polling demonstrates that the once supreme popularity ratings of Putin and Medvedev are eroding rapidly. Beyond the political elites are the financial oligarchs, who have been forced to deleverage, even unloading their yachts and executive jets in a desperate attempt to raise cash. Should the Russian economy deterioratetothe point where economic collapse is not out of the question, the impact will go far beyond the obvious accelerant such an outcome would be for the Global Economic Crisis. There is a geopolitical dimension that is even more relevant then the economic context. Despite its economic vulnerabilities and perceived decline from superpower status, Russia remains one of only two nations on earth with a nuclear arsenal of sufficient scope and capability to destroy the world as we know it. For that reason, it is not only President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin who will be lying awake at nights over the prospect that a national economic crisis can transform itself into a virulent and destabilizing social and political upheaval. It just may be possible that U.S. President Barack Obama's national security team has already briefed him about the consequences of a major economic meltdown in Russia for the peace of the world. After all, the most recent national intelligence estimates put out by the U.S. intelligence community have already concluded that the Global Economic Crisis represents the greatest national security threat to the United States, due to its facilitating political instability in the world. During the years Boris Yeltsin ruled Russia, security forces responsible for guarding the nation's nuclear arsenal went without pay for months at a time, leading to fears that desperate personnel would illicitly sell nuclear weapons to terrorist organizations. If thecurrent economiccrisis in Russia were to deteriorate much further, how secure would the Russian nuclear arsenal remain? It may be that the financial impact of the Global Economic Crisis is its least dangerous consequence.
US Key to Russia
US market key to gazprom exports – europe is becoming too competitive
Global Insight Daily Analysis 2k8
Gazprom Targets Growth in U.S. Gas Market; Sakhalin-2 LNG Exports Delayed Until 2009,” 4/24/08 Global Insight Limited, Factiva
Alexander Medvedev, the head of Gazprom's export arm, Gazpromexport, told reporters yesterday that the Russian gas giant is aiming to become a significant gas supplier to the United States. Medvedev—the lesser-known of the two high-profile Medvedevs in senior positions at Gazprom (Dmitri, who is unrelated to Alexander, is the chairman of Gazprom and also happens to the president-elect of Russia)—said that Gazprom considers the United States, and the North American market in general, as "one of the most promising in view of the growing demand for natural gas as well as the situation with local production." In other words, the size of the U.S. gas market, together with the rising gap between U.S. gas consumption and its domestic gas production, makes the United States a lucrative target on which Gazprom is setting its sights for its gas exports. With European government officials becoming more strident in their criticism of Gazprom, pursuing policies geared to diversify the continent's gas suppliers and stem growing reliance on Russian gas, Gazprom itself is taking a long-term approach to its customer base, looking to reduce its heavy dependence on Europe as a market for its gas. Even as European companies themselves are slowly boosting co-operation with Gazprom, both sides are publicly looking to diversify their gas trading partners, all the while seeking to improve reliability of Russian supplies and guarantee long-term markets. Hence, Gazprom is talking up its potential to supply gas to North America as well as Asia. Medvedev said yesterday that gas extracted from the massive Shtokman gas field in the Barents Sea could be liquefied and sent to the United States as LNG, but he added thatGazprom could realise its gas export potential to the United States "not only from Shtokman but from the Yamal Peninsula and Sakhalin-2."
U.S. is a critical market for future Russian LNG exports – key to their economy
Moscow Times 5
Valeria Korchagina, “Russia Rising as Energy Superpower on U.S. Demand,” 10-26-2005, http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/9279-27.cfm
The legendary sea-faring route from the United States across the Atlantic to Russia's northern city of Murmansk, through which vital supplies went to the Soviet Union some 60 years ago to help the country fight in World War II, is looking to get a new breath of life. This time, however, the traffic is going to be reversed, shipping liquefied natural gas, or LNG, from Russia to energy-hungry North America. During the war, lend-lease proved to be a successful strategy for the Soviet Union, which desperately needed both food to feed the Army and equipment to maintain military operations, as well as for its Western Allies, whose help ensured that Nazi Germany's armed forces remained focused on the Eastern front. In a strange turn of fate, the plans to ship LNG from Russia via the famous route also look to be beneficial for both sides -- Russian gas will benefit from reaching new markets, while the United States will satisfy its need to diversify its sources of hydrocarbons imports. The need for diversification became increasingly evident in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina's rampage across the U.S. Gulf Coast, which along with other problems brought the area's production and shipping activities to a halt. The hurricane seems to have given new impetus to the energy dialogue between Washington and Moscow. It has also given Russia a chance to flex its muscles in its pursuit of a role as an energy superpower -- even if Russia is yet to produce its first LNG."Russia wants to be the new Saudi Arabia in terms of global energy -- a global energy partner for consumer countries," said Chris Weafer, chief strategist at Alfa Bank, who has advised the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Saudi Arabia has since the 1980s reaped considerable political benefits from having an energy partnership with consumer countries. "But it seems that the model that Russia is pushing is a more expensive version of that. Instead of just being a big global energy supplier shipping lots of oil ... Russia wants to be and is able to be a supplier of several types of energy ... which gives it better political leverage," Weafer said. The development of the huge offshore Shtokman field -- which contains 3.2 trillion cubic meters of gas and 31 million tons of gas condensate and is by far the largest LNG project in Russia -- aims to develop the natural gas deposits located under the Barents Sea. As the production is launched in 2010, most of the gas condensate will be shipped to the United States, which plans to boost its total LNG imports to 180 billion cubic meters per year by 2025. Gazprom, which is to lead the $20 billion project, has yet to make the final selection of foreign partners from among France's Total, Norway's Statoil and Hydro, and U.S giants ConocoPhillips and Chevron. A U.S. partner will be essential for Gazprom if it is to ensure access to the North American market. "The U.S. market has a great potential for growth. We can only reach it using LNG technology. After all, you can't build a pipeline from Russia to the United States," said Sergei Kupriyanov, the spokesman for Gazprom. In addition to the competition that Russia would have to face to sell oil to the United States -- mostly from the Gulf states, Mexico and Venezuela -- shipping oil across the Atlantic is very expensive. But even more importantly, Russia simply does not produce enough oil to feed United States' energy needs. "All the oil Russia produces has essentially already been sold," said Valery Nesterov, an oil and gas analyst at investment bank Troika Dialog. As a result, Russia accounted for only 1.9 percent of U.S. oil imports in the first quarter of 2005. Gas, meanwhile, is an entirely different story for Russia. The planned route for Shtokman gas from Murmansk to the east coast of the United States will be significantly shorter than the distance the shipments from the Middle East have to make to North America, giving it an advantage over the Gulf exporters of LNG. And the money that Washington is ready to shell out for LNG is certainly not getting smaller -- the price for 1,000 cubic meters of natural gas rose threefold in 2004 to reach $222. At the same time, European customers paid Gazprom only $136 for 1,000 cm of natural gas. But most importantly, gas is set to grow in importance -- for Russia as well as for other hydrocarbon exporters -- because its global reserves are estimated to be immeasurably larger than those of oil. According to BP, by the beginning of 2005 the world's proven extractable oil reserves were almost equal to proven extractable natural gas reserves, both at around 162 billion tons. But it is widely believed that there is considerably more gas yet to be discovered -- for example, since 1994, extractable proven reserves of oil grew by 10 percent, while the reserves of gas jumped by 25 percent. And Russia is well-placed to benefit from this -- it already holds 27 percent of the world's known natural gas reserves. As a result, analysts now forecast that the share of liquefied gas on the world gas market is set to increase from the current 30 percent to around 50 percent by 2030. "Some say that while the 20th century was the century of oil, the 21st century will be the century of gas," said Troika Dialog's Nesterov. The U.S. demand for LNG -- the supercooled gas condensed to 1/600 of its natural volume -- is also poised to grow. While 14 billion cubic meters of gas condensate was shipped to the U.S. in 2003, consumption of it is expected to shoot up to 180 billion by 2025.