Articles by Christopher Weafer



Putin's Record Provides Cause for Optimism

More often than not the state's interaction with the energy sector has created the impression that investment risk is on the rise in Russia.

Keep an Eye Out for Reform's Second Phase

The year ahead represents an important transition for investors in Russia. Not because it is the last full year of Vladimir Putin's presidency, but because it is the last in an eight-year preparation phase during which the state has established a dominant role in so-called strategic sectors and has built up a substantial financial reserve base.

Putin's Russia Needs to Stand and Deliver

Russia needs to make good on the expectations it has created. It is easy to forget that Russia is still an emerging economy.

Prosperity and Political Predictability

For long-term portfolio and strategic investors looking at Russia today, political stability and economic predictability are much more important issues than, say, the price of oil. If the price of a barrel of crude were to fall tomorrow, it would not be the loss of budget revenue as such that might undermine the investment attractiveness of the country, but rather a poorly thought-out and executed economic response.

Struggles Should Not Sink Gazprom

Last week, the government agreed to acquire an additional 10.7 percent equity stake in Gazprom for $7.1 billion. This transaction, once completed, will see the state's direct holding in the world's biggest energy company increase to just over the 50 percent level required to formalize control.

The Economists Strike Back

One year ago, President Vladimir Putin started his second term in office.

State Control Over Lock, Stock and Barrel

The recent announcements that Russia intends to exclude companies or groups that are not majority Russian-owned from bidding for natural resource development licenses, together with the plan to prioritize the building of a $15 billion, 4,200-kilometer pipeline to Nakhodka on the Pacific, do not make great economic sense.

Falling Between a Rock and a Hard Place

This Sunday, President Vladimir Putin's government will realize one of its key ambitions. Gazprom will almost certainly win the auction of Yukos' main production asset, Yuganskneftegaz. By doing so, the state will have restored its previous control over a big piece of an industry that is not only the most important element in the local economy, but, along with natural gas, is increasingly the modern equivalent of military might.

What End to the Endgame?

Twelve months after the arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovsky triggered an escalation in the investigation of Yukos by the Tax Ministry and the launching of several criminal cases against Menatep shareholders, there is still no clear understanding of how or when they will end.

The Chilean or Indonesian Model?

The reason why Russia's richest oligarch is sitting in jail is because he wanted Russia to become the new Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia's Fall and Russia's Energetic Rise?

The increasing instability in Saudi Arabia, highlighted again by the weekend attack in the eastern oil town of Khobar, is almost certainly bringing closer the day when there will be a regime change in the country from the mainly pragmatic royal family (the House of Saud) to a potentially more belligerent and anti-U.S. regime.

Government Holds Key to Investment in 2004

As we enter a new investment year, one thing has become very clear: This is a critical transition year for economic policy in Russia, and if you want to make money in 2004 then you have to understand what the government wants to achieve and how it plans to achieve it.

Should Russia Price Its Oil in Euros?

The U.S. government would like to see the dollar weaker against the currencies of its major trading partners in order to try and stimulate manufacturing sector growth and to reverse the bulging trade deficit.

Will Iraq Prove to Be OPEC's Nemesis?

Russia may have to choose between supporting OPEC politically, which will help ensure a high level of future export revenues, or to side with the consumer countries.

Chasing Portugal or Following Venezuela?

This year will be one of the most decisive years in Russia's relatively short and turbulent economic history.

Oil Drives the Boom

With world oil prices appearing to have passed their peak, there are valid reasons for concern over the effect such a decline may have on the pace of economic growth in Russia.