In one of the jokes Russians tell about Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea football club and until this week an oil tycoon, he complains that London is an expensive city. Punch-line: “He still can’t buy it.”Other good lines include this one which link the inverse correlation between state ownership, ownership of cash flow and output efficiency.
The second question is: are the deal, and the trend it represents, good for the Russian oil industry, and Russia itself? After the Yugansk and Sibneft transactions, the share of Russia’s oil production controlled by the Kremlin will approach a third. The state also influences oil exports via its pipeline monopoly; Gazprom has monopolies both on gas pipelines and gas sales outside the former Soviet Union. True, the Russian government still has a weaker grip on the energy sector than the governments of many other petro-states. But as one Moscow-based tycoon puts it, the problem is not with state ownership per se, but with this state in particular. The growth of Russian oil production has already drooped. More state oversight—meaning more graft and less efficiency—is unlikely to help.My favourite though is the failure to outright say that the rumour doing the rounds in Moscow is that VVP has an economic stake in Sibneft - he owns the people who own the shares sort of thing.
Still, why is Mr Putin, hammer of the oligarchs, letting him walk away with all this cash? With whom will he be sharing it? There are rumours.There are indeed and they make less than pretty hearing. Anyway good luck to the Kremlin theftocrats why work to make money when you can steal it in the name of your nation instead.