US Shtokman role is not imperative

Publish date: May 23, 2006

According to The American Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman, U.S. participation in a closely watched Russian natural gas project would be "useful," but isn't "imperative" to the U.S., or to the U.S. companies that are hoping to land the deal.

In recent weeks, Russia’s Gazprom has repeatedly delayed announcing foreign partners on the giant, multi-billion effort to develop the Shtokman field. U.S. oil majors Chevron and ConocoPhillips are competing with three European companies for job, RigZone reported.

"I think it would be useful, but I don’t think it’s imperative," Bodman said of the importance that Gazprom select at least one U.S. company."I’m hopeful it will happen," he said. "But if it doesn’t happen, I’m sure they’ll find other opportunities."

A Kremlin spokesman this week linked Gazprom’s decision on Shtokman to U.S. resistance to Russian entry into the World Trade Organization. The Kremlin also has bristled at recent criticism of Russia by Vice President Dick Cheney and other Bush administration officials. Gazprom, of which the Russian government is the majority-owner, has denied a political link to the Shtokman decision.

"They have their own decision-making process," Bodman said of Russia. "Often, in dealing with the Russians, they come close to making a decision, and then the world changes and so they want to add other factors to it."