The Russian gas firm Gazprom has been in the news lately because of its stand-off with Ukraine over unpaid bills. Now the shoe’s on the other foot: Turkmenistan is alleging that the company hasn’t yet paid for 2015 gas deliveries. Reuters reports:
“Since the beginning of 2015, OAO Gazprom has not paid for its debts to state concern Turkmengas for the shipped volumes of Turkmen natural gas,” Turkmenistan’s Oil and Gas Ministry said in a statement on its official website (www.oilgas.gov.tm). […]
“Russian company Gazprom has become insolvent on its natural gas purchase-and-sale contracts due to the continued global economic crisis and economic sanctions imposed by Western nations on Russia,” the ministry’s statement said.
Turkmenistan has seen its exports to Russia fall by some 75 percent over the past seven years, and Gazprom is threatening to halve those imports to a paltry four billion cubic meters in 2015.
Whether it’s importing or exporting hydrocarbons, Russia isn’t shy about throwing its weight around. With Ukraine, it has worked to capitalize on the beleaguered country’s heavy reliance on Gazprom supplies for winter heating; with Turkmenistan it’s now playing hardball with a country that in the past has heavily relied on Russia as a buyer.
But Turkmenistan has something in common with its allegedly deadbeat neighbor: both are turning east to China as they search for new custom.