The Economist

Spooked by shale
The Economist

A SPECTRE is haunting Russia: the spectre of shale gas. It is seeping into the salons of power, discomfiting Russia’s leaders and their bizniz cronies. Energy companies account for half of the value of the Russian stockmarket, and a single, state-backed firm, Gazprom, produces 10% of the country’s exports. The revolution in unconventional gas production from shale beds, which began in the United States and is now spreading around the world, is shaking Russian state capitalism to its foundations.

All the powers of Mr Putin’s Russia have joined in a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: president and prime minister, oligarchs and bureaucrats, trendy environmentalists and Kremlin police-spies. Mr Putin has denounced shale for costing too much and ruining the environment. Alexey Miller, the boss of Gazprom, has described the revolution as a “myth” and a “bubble that will burst soon”.

Gazprom is a wounded giant these days, and shale is one of the things that has hurt it most. In 2008 it had a market capitalisation of $367 billion. Now it is worth just $78 billion and its business model—pumping money into the Kremlin in return for protection against competition—looks bust.

On accuse souvent les défenseurs des gaz de schiste d’avoir été achetés par l’industrie pétrolière (j’attends encore mon chèque…), mais ne devrait-on pas plutôt se demander qui finance les lobbies réactionnaires opposés au développement de cette ressource ? À moins que nos lobbies soient simplement nostalgique de l’époque de l’URSS…

P.-S. Mon petit doigt me dit que Vladimir Poutine approuverait la stratégie énergétique du PQ… Just saying…