A Russian state-controlled holding company has taken steps toward selling off its stake in Rosneft, the country’s largest oil company, Reuters reported Friday.
Local news reports cite Russian Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev saying Rosneftegaz’s holding company will divest itself of 69.5 percent of its shares in Rosneft.
Russia’s move comes on the heels of an increase in U.S. natural gas and oil exports to Europe — and an overall impression among Europeans that the exports are a game changer, helping to wean them off Russian oil.
U.S. exports in Europe may be contributing to Rosneftegaz’s decision to purge its share of Rosneft.
“Like shale gas was a game changer in the U.S., American gas exports could be a game changer for Europe,” Maros Sefcovic, the European Union’s energy chief, told The Wall Street Journal in February.
Deutcsche Bank, one of the world’s leading financial institutions, suggested in February Russia’s energy dominance in Europe could decay over the next ten years as the U.S. continues to make headway in Europe’s energy markets.
Lithuanian officials claim Russia uses tricks and espionage to defend their share of the energy market.
“In Russia, gas always goes together with politics,” Rokas Masiulis, Lithuania’s energy minister, said in an interview in February. “Russia is extremely aggressive in gas pricing and the arrival of U.S. LNG will change that.”
The Russian noose may be loosening after the country decided in 2012 to lease a gas ship called the Independent from a Norwegian company.
“Nobody else, from now on, will be able to dictate to us the price of gas, or to buy our political will,” Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said at a ceremony welcoming the Independent to the country.
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