Chapter 4: Russia’s East and the Search for a New El Dorado: A Comparative Analysis of Russia’s Kovytka, Sakhalin-2 and Chaiadinskoe Greenfield Projects
David Dusseault INTRODUCTION: THE CHANGING CONTEXT This chapter will analyse the regional politics of energy in Russia (see Chapter 1), especially vis-à-vis the eastern parts of the country where several new oil and gas fields will begin operation in the coming years and decades supplementing existing production. The regional focus is a welcome improvement on previous research, which has not fully accounted for how Russia’s energy sector extends far beyond the much discussed macro-issues of global pricing and security of supply issues, posed respectively by geoeconomic and geopolitical schools of thought. Regardless of the focus such global level topics merit, to fully come to terms with the challenges posed by the further development of Russia’s hydrocarbon base and the benefits to be derived from it, we need to examine competing actors and their interests in Russia, the extent to which the underlying structures are malleable, along with competing visions for the organization of the country’s energy sector (Bradshaw, 2008). Unlike the current macro-level assessments assuming that economic rent achieved from sales of Russia’s hydrocarbons is simply pooled in the federal level coffers (Gaddy and Ickes, 2010), the proceeds from Russia’s oil and gas trade play a far more complex role beyond enriching the country’s political and economic elite and ensuring their legitimacy. As stated in Russia’s energy strategy up to 2030, the exploitation of the country’s energy sector is not an end in itself. Instead, the Russian energy sector is a means to provide economic rent and political legitimacy...
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