Right on the eve of Independence Day, a rather unexpected event has occured: Russian companies started direct oil supplies to the USA. Very few people believed that it would happen indeed.
Beginning of the oil supplies is very important from both political and economic points of view. First, Washington demonstrates its interest in a close partnership with Russia not only fixed in documents, but in practice first of all. Russia’s Astro Lupus oil tanker will be met by US Deputy Energy Minister Michael Smith and US Congress members Nicolas Lampson and Ken Bentsen. This fact demonstrates the importance of the deliveries.
It is no secret that the USA wants to reduce the dependence of the US economy on oil import from Mideast countries. Russian oil is an alternative in this case. As of now, it is difficult to say to what extent the oil deliveries will be economically justified. The matter of the fact is that the first tanker with Russian oil has covered a rather long way: originally, the oil was loaded onto the tanker in the port of Novorossiisk, then by the Black, Aegean, and Mediterranean seas, it was delivered to Houston. On the other hand, the route from the Persian Gulf is also rather long. President of YUKOS, a Russian company that performs oil deliveries to the USA, Mikhail Khodorkovsky announced recently the intention to make oil supplies economically rational, one barrel of Russian oil is to cost $25 at least. It is to be taken into consideration that Russian oil is of a lower quality than the Mideast oil. And, consequently, its price on the world markets is much lower than $25. On the other hand, if the project continues, Mideast countries will have no opportunity to threaten the USA with the cessation of oil supplies. Therefore, Washington is getting more chances for therealization of its Mideast policy, and the USA appreciates this fact very much. The beginning of the oil supplies is also very important for Russia’s economy as well. If they become regular, Moscow can look at OPEC from a considerable distance. OPEC, as is known, is not remarkable for its unity of opinions; the increase of quotas for oil sales has been discussed for several months already. And what is more, unlike the Middle East, Russia has no reason to blackmail the USA with cessation of oil supplies, and no reasons are likely to appear in the future.
On the whole, time will tell to what extent the project turns out to be economically justified. This is just the first shipment of oil from Russia. Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/07/03/43639.html