» 06/16/2012 RUSSIA Government and Kremlin clash over energy sector by Nina Achmatova The former pro-Putin deputy prime minister, Igor Sechin, founded the "oil club" and returns to take on an institutional role as head of a new commission for oil & gas from the presidency. Analysts: move to weaken Medvedev's government, which should decide all energy policy.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - Analysts had predicted, with the exchange of roles between Dmitri Medvedev and Vladimir Putin two governments have in fact been established at the helm of Russia, one in the Kremlin and one in the White House (the seat of the Russian executive). The first battle seems already underway and involves the energy sector of strategic importance for the Federation given that it is responsible for much of the public budget.
Former Deputy Prime Minister with responsibility for energy resources Igor Sechin, Putin's man, was excluded from Medvedev's new cabinet - with whom relations have been strained for some time - but has every intention of continuing to remain a point of reference in the field, bypassing his successor Arkady Dvorkovich. Known as the "energy czar", Sechin was appointed last month as head of the state oil giant Rosneft and from there launched his campaign to maintain a strong influence in the energy field. On June 8, he founded the "oil club," a club that brings together top executives of major Russian oil companies and with which he plans to meet regularly to discuss common problems. Already at its inception the club has created embarrassment to the government: the meeting convened by Sechin coincided with a meeting of leaders of industry with Dvorkovich, which the White House was forced to move or risk illustrious absences.
According to sources for the authoritative newspaper Vedomosti, the club aims to bring the same table in a major energy industry players "to discuss the status of their business and listen to the views of Sechin, head of the largest Russian oil company." Among the companies which have accepted the invitation to a " closed door lunch" at the headquarters of Rosneft, Moscow: Surgutneftgas, Bashneft, GazpromNeft and TNK-BP, a joint venture between the AAR consortium of Russian oligarchs and British Petroleum. Only Lukoil and Tatneft were absent, because of unstated previous commitments.
The energy czar, however, seems to want more. According to rumors the newspaper RBC, the former deputy prime minister aims to transform the "oil club" into a council for Energy at the Russian presidency, which he has proposed to Putin in a letter. It has been agreed to, apparently. On 15 June, Putin himself appointed his trusted man secretary of a committee chaired by himself and responsible for the development of the energy industry. The initiative - some sources point out - is "a political move to underscore that Sechin is still the most influential figure in the industry but it is also a way to weaken the powers of the new government chief for the oil & gas, "Dvorkovich. The latter has stated the "oil club" may overlap with the work of government agencies that deal with energy, but now that Sechin is back to fill an institutional role, things will change. "It 's likely that all matters will be handled directly between the oil companies, bypassing the government and the president - said the director of the Center for Political Information Alexei Mukhin - it is also clear that the major companies still do not trust the new Government and for this they need to move towards the single point of reference, represented by Putin and his men. "