Using the lens of dependence and of the political economy of gas in Eurasia, this article explains Gazprom’s strategy vis-à-vis European and FSU countries. It also presents how Western European countries try to limit their dependence over Gazprom. This paper is interesting due to its approach and combination of facts and theory. It does demonstrate that gas markets are political because of their inflexibility due to large upfront costs for pipelines buildings and long-term contracts. It also explains the market power of suppliers of gas. The article is built on the concept of asymmetric interdependence: on one hand, the EU depends on Russia/Eurasian supply for about 30 percent of its natural gas; on the other hand, Russia depends on oil and gas revenues (of which exports to Europe). The paper also demonstrates how Central European states depend largely on Russian gas but are also transit states to Western Europe and can therefore have a certain power to negotiate transit tariffs or cheaper prices. The last parts of the article describe the EU strategy to reduce the monopoly power of Gazprom by trying to develop alternative supply countries and developing pipelines outside Russia, such as NABUCCO. It also presents Gazprom’s strategy to increase asymmetric dependence by bypassing Central European transit countries and by tying up Central Asian supply.

Gaël Raballand, Observatory of Post-Soviet States, Paris
CER: II-7.1-560