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New York Post: PUTIN PLAYS SHELL GAME

Bloomberg

December 13, 2006 — OAO Gazprom said it may buy 50 percent in Royal Dutch Shell’s $22 billion Sakhalin-2 project after months of Russian government pressure, helping President Vladimir Putin tighten his grip on the world’s biggest energy industry.

Gazprom may pay cash or a combination of cash and assets to buy the stake of Sakhalin-2, Board Chairman Dmitry Medvedev said. Medvedev, a former chief of staff for Putin, is also Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister.

“Talks are proceeding quickly and will be completed soon,” Medvedev told reporters in Moscow. Putin has used tax and environmental probes to restore the state’s dominance over Russia’s oil and gas supplies, the world’s largest.

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