Thursday, July 06, 2006
Gazprom Export Monopoly Bill Passes Final Reading in Russian Parliament
05.07.2006 - MosNews - On Wednesday, July 5, the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, has approved the third and final reading of the bill that cements the export monopoly of the country's natural gas monopoly Gazprom. The bill passed the final reading in the Duma by a vote of 354-64 with no abstentions. It stipulates that all Russian exports of natural gas must be run through state-owned pipelines — in effect limiting Russia's lucrative gas export market to state-controlled Gazprom. Meanwhile, as MosNews reported, the European Union has been pushing the Russian authorities to open the country's export pipeline system to independent producers and foreign firms. The push came as an attempt to reduce Gazprom's ability to charge what Europe considers as monopolist prices on the gas that the energy giant transports from Russia and former republics of the Soviet Union. Proponents of the Kremlin-backed measure cast the bill as a necessary response to growing foreign competition for a stake in Russia's rich natural resources.