Case | HBS Case Collection | August 2008 (Revised July 2009)

Gazprom (A): Energy and Strategy in Russian History

by Rawi E. Abdelal, Sogomon Tarontsi and Alexander Jorov

Abstract

Critics have accused Gazprom, the world's largest natural gas producer, of eschewing market principles in favor of the foreign policy priorities of the Russian government, ever since the energy giant cut off the supply to Ukraine in January of 2006. The purported motive for the decision, however, seems to indicate the opposite: the company claimed that it had no other choice because the sides failed to conclude a contract on the terms of future trade. The case takes a look back in history for clues that may resolve this paradox. It highlights how politics shaped the economics of natural gas trade in the former Soviet Union and Europe since the late 1960s until the end of the 1990s; sketches the story of the creation of Gazprom by the first post-Soviet government of Russia; and describes how the erection of new sovereign borders in the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, coupled with political and economic transition, created major problems in the gas trade between the former Soviet republics, emerging with the greatest intensity in the Russian-Ukrainian relations.

Keywords: History; International Relations; Trade; Energy Industry; Russia; Soviet Union; Ukraine; Europe;

Citation:

Abdelal, Rawi E., Sogomon Tarontsi, and Alexander Jorov. "Gazprom (A): Energy and Strategy in Russian History." Harvard Business School Case 709-008, August 2008. (Revised July 2009.)