Porozumienie gazowe między Polską a Rosjąred. Wiktor Stanis 2;aw Micha 2;owski - redaktor naczelny kwartalnika "Gazociągi" (2009-11-25)Aktualności dnia
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Just a year ago, Gazprom seemed all-powerful. The Russian gas producer was the third-largest corporation in the world, sat on a hoard of cash and had single-handedly blocked gas to a large part of Europe in the middle of winter without fear of losing business.
A lot has changed since – with both Gazprom and its customers strapped for cash amid the global downturn, the Russian behemoth is now under pressure to lighten its heavy-handed touch and become more accommodating with them.
The main market force reshaping the Russian monopoly's attitude has clearly been the economic crisis, which has decimated energy demand from Europe's massive industrial sector. But while the recession has hit businesses everywhere, Gazprom is also a victim of its own rigid practices.
Because the company pegs its prices to the oil market, its customers are paying 50 per cent more than those buying on the spot market, which means new customers have no incentive to sign a deal with it. Furthermore, Gazprom has so far insisted on an inflexible contract system called “take-or-pay” which risks driving demand away.
Under these contracts, Gazprom's European customers must buy a fixed amount of natural gas at a price pegged to crude oil for a duration of 20 to 30 years. The take-or-pay clause means that even if customers take less – which is exactly the case amid the downturn – they still have to pay.