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Russia’s Shell Game: Sakhalin LNG Stake Swapped Like Trading Cards, This Time Gazprom Wins

Posted by John Donovan: 27 March 2024

Well, well, well, folks, gather ’round for another chapter in the thrilling saga of Shell’s misadventures in the land of oil and oligarchs. In this latest installment, the Russian government has decided to play a game of hot potato with Shell’s minority stake in the Sakhalin LNG project, ultimately passing it off to their favorite playmate, state-controlled behemoth Gazprom, for a cool $1 billion.

Now, let’s rewind a bit, shall we? Shell, ever the enterprising multinational, originally held the reins in this project until they found themselves caught up in a web of intrigue involving insider info, espionage, and more drama than a daytime soap opera. And who’s behind this plot twist, you ask? None other than yours truly, providing juicy tidbits to the Russian government back in the day, leading to Shell setting up their very own spy network. Ah, the things we do for love—err, I mean, gas.

Fast forward to 2022, with Vladimir Putin transformed into a dictator who decides he’s had enough of Shell’s shenanigans, decreeing that a new state-owned Russian entity would swoop in to take over the reins of the Sakhalin-2 project. Shell and its pals from Japan—Mitsui and Mitsubishi—found themselves relegated to the sidelines, watching their once-lucrative venture slip through their fingers like grains of sand.

But fear not, dear readers, for Shell had a cunning plan—or so they thought. In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Shell declared they were washing their hands clean of any entanglements with Gazprom and its ilk, including their hefty 27.5% stake in the Sakhalin-2 LNG facility. Cue dramatic exit stage left.

Enter Novatek, the Russian knight in shining armor—or so they seemed. They eagerly offered to rescue Shell from their predicament, waving a $1 billion check under their noses like a tantalizing carrot. But alas, it was not meant to be. Just when Shell thought they were out, Putin pulls them back in, decreeing that Gazprom would be the chosen one to inherit Shell’s stake, leaving Novatek out in the cold, scratching their heads in confusion.

And why the sudden change of heart, you may ask? Well, dear readers, your guess is as good as mine. The Russian government works in mysterious ways, like a master puppeteer pulling the strings behind the curtain.

So, here we are, witnessing yet another twist in the labyrinthine tale of Shell’s Russian roulette. Only time will tell in this game of corporate cat and mouse, where the stakes are high, the players are ruthless, and the plot twists never cease to amaze.

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