Russia’s Biggest Move Yet To Take Control Of The European Gas Market, by Simon Watkins

Russia has cut a sweet deal with Iran for control of a large percentage of a Caspian Sea oil and natural gas field. This, of course, will increase its clout in European and world energy markets. From Simon Watkins at oilprice.com:

  • Russia has managed to secure the largest share in Iran’s huge Chalous gas discovery, a move that could have huge economic and geopolitical consequences
  • A senior Russian official believes this was the final act in securing control over the European energy market
  • While Iran appears to have lost out economically on this deal, it will provide the Islamic Republic geopolitical support and the IRGC a nice slush fund

A deal finalized last week to develop Iran’s multi-trillion dollar new gas discovery, the Chalous field, will see Russian companies hold the major share in it, followed by Chinese companies, and only then Iranian ones, sources close to the deal exclusively told OilPrice.com. This is despite Chalous’s position unequivocally within the Iranian sector of the Caspian Sea, over which the Islamic Republic has complete sovereignty. Billions of dollars in additional capital investment are scheduled to come from financial institutions in Germany, Austria, and Italy, as the indications are that the size of Chalous’s gas reserves are even greater now than initially thought. According to one of the senior Russian officials involved in negotiating the deal: “This is the final act of securing control over the European energy market.”

In context, the wider Caspian basins area, including both onshore and offshore fields, is conservatively estimated to have around 48 billion barrels of oil and 292 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in proven and probable reserves. As exclusively covered and analyzed by OilPrice.com in 2019, Russia was instrumental in manipulating a change in the legal status of the Caspian basins area that meant that Iran’s share of the total revenues from the entire Caspian site was slashed from 50-50 split with the USSR that it had enjoyed as from the original agreement made in 1921 (on ‘fishing rights’) and amended in 1924 to include ‘any and all resources recovered’ to just 11.875 percent. Before the Chalous discovery, this meant that Iran would lose at least US$3.2 trillion in revenues from the lost value of energy products across the shared assets of the Caspian Sea resource going forward. Given the latest internal-use only estimates from Iran and Russia, this figure will now be a lot higher.

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