Gazprom behaving like a real business
Gazprom, with Vladimir Putin at the helm, is Russia's - ex-USSR's - nationally owned and operated natural gas company. Along with the Russian national oil company, Gazprom makes Russia the number 1 energy exporter in the world - yes, more than Saudi. Gazprom is one of the world's largest energy companies, but has suffered by their association with the Russian rouble - remember the early 90's when Russian debt defaulted - and by their long history of Communist mismanagement, rife with corruption, back-room deals, and basically Politburo-level inefficiency.
On March 19th, Putin announced that 2 LNG tankers would be diverted from their destination in Europe to Japan, as a response to the earthquake and tsunami that took nuclear reactors off-line. But he didn't stop there. He also offered Japanese companies a stake in a 3.2 billion cu. m. Siberian gas field, and is preparing to send more pipeline gas to Europe, and fewer LNG tankers, so that Gazprom can divert more LNG tankers to Japan in the next few months going forward.
Gazprom is trying to position itself aggressively to market energy to Asia and is expected to conclude a deal with China to supply it with 80 billion cu ft of natural gas annually in 2011. Gazprom's moves with respect to Japan are brilliant - in addition to mitigating a humanitarian catastrophe, it is also a really neat way to get some unexpected business ties formed with the Japanese energy market, which still serves the world's #2 economy.
Charity and capitalism hand in hand - sounds like something you'd hear about from GE, or IBM, or 3M - one of the great American corporations. But this time it's Gazprom, in a move as nimble and as strategic as any I've seen in a while in the good old US of A. Good business practices aren't limited to the USA - Gazprom just gave the world a clinic in how to grow a business the old-fashioned way!
Disclosure: long Gazprom. And if they keep doing things like this, I'm going to go longer.