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Igor Sechin resumes supervision of Russia’s fuel and energy complex

June 18, 2012, 14:22 UTC+3
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On June 15, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin signed an order on establishment of a presidential commission on strategic development of the fuel and energy complex. The president will chair the commission, and Igor Sechin, CEO of Rosneft, will take the position of executive secretary. This means that the former deputy prime minister actually resumes management of the fuel and energy complex.

The commission will unite officials, major businesses – companies’ CEOs, parliamentarians and experts, the Rossiiskaya Gazeta writes. State officials include – Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, Minister of Economic Development Andrei Belousov and his deputy Stanislav Voskresensky, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov, Minister of Energy Alexander Novak, Presidential Aide Elvira Nabiullina, Head of the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service /FAS/ Igor Artemyev, Head of the Federal Customs Service Andrei Belyaninov, Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology Sergei Donskoy, Head of Rostechnadzor Nikolai Kutyin, Head of the Federal Tariffs Service Sergei Novikov and others.

As Sechin left the White House, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich chaired the governmental commission on the fuel and energy sector, but the market participants say they would “settle questions” directly via the president, the Kommersant reports. The government will have the responsibility to carry out most of decisions.

The formations inside the presidential administration of a structure, which duplicates governmental bodies, fits well the tendency to form up a ‘junior government’ under supervision of Vladimir Putin, though the Kremlin refuses it, the newspaper continues. The organisation of the governmental commission on the fuel and energy complex means that Igor Sechin, like key ministers of his former government, regains the opportunity to influence all decisions of the executive power in the sphere of own interests. The tension between the government and the Kremlin grows following decisions of the kind. Dmitry Medvedev’s government cannot consider the developing ‘junior government’ as a structure, which may in case of a political or financial crisis replace him – and it will have to pursue a pre-emptive tactic.

Decisions of the presidential commission on the fuel and energy sector are binding for federal authorities, the Vedomosti quote the document as reading. Sechin is granted a right to request materials from members of the commission, organisations and executive bodies and to give orders to them. “Unbelievable! An oil company’s head, a regular market player, has a right to request from competitors materials, to give orders to ministers to FAS and to FSB? How does it correlate with the law?” a person close to the commission asked with indignation.

The sector’s major companies signed a common letter to the president asking to organise the commission. The idea came from Sechin, sources close to the commission said. “We confronted with a fait accompli and we signed,” one of them said. “This is an offer you cannot refuse,” the other said with a deep sigh. “However nobody signed a request to grant those wide authorities to Sechin,” another one said.

Sechin is not a person, but rather a function, he is not ruling, people close to the commission said: now the fuel and energy sector is managed not from the government, but from the Kremlin. “The new commission is in fact a defeat of Prime Minister Medvedev’s team: they have not managed to do much, but 30 percent of the Russian GDP is removed from their control,” Vedomosti reports a source saying with excitement.

“Authorities of the presidential commission are so wide that Dvorkovich simply will not have options for manoeuvring. His commission is to be either closed or restructured somehow,” a federal level official said.

The Prime Minister’s spokeswoman Natalia Timakova claims the governmental commission would continue working: Dvorkovich is drafting new objectives and tasks.

The government is not too happy with the initiative, the Moskovsky Komsomolets writes. On June 7, Arkady Dvorkovich at a governmental meeting demanded separate decisions of the cabinet on every case of Rosneftegas’ purchase of energy shares. Dmitry Medvedev supports the initiative. In response to it, on June 8, Sechin organises a meeting of the Oil Club at the office of Rosneft. During the meeting the Club asks Vladimir Putin to become a chairperson. On June 15, the president issues an order on establishment of the commission on the fuel and energy complex. That’s it – the circle closes up. And the decision on buyback of shares (or rather the assignment of rights) of state energy companies remains Sechin’s complete control.

The RBC daily reports the commission would be working in the sector’s all directions. Igor Sechin’s authorities will include preliminary consideration and analysis of materials presented to the commission. However, the power of the ‘oil king’ will be actually endless. He will supervise fulfilment of orders issued by Vladimir Putin, will chair the commission’s meetings when the chairman is away, and will sign protocols. Igor Sechin received the right to request additional materials from the commission members, from executive bodies of all levels, as well as to have preliminary meetings witht eh latter.

The sphere of interests of the Putin-Sechin commission will not be limited by oil and gas only, it will also include electric energy and transport, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. the presidential order states directly that the new commission will consider programmes of further development of the electric energy, and will offer “major directions for development of the pipeline transport; and future of other kinds of transportation including terminals and other related infrastructures.”

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