We have previously profiled the "holy grail" gas deal between Russia and China on several occasions, and noted last week how it is expected to be signed this week - pending some final price negotiations. It appears that was spot on as Reuters reports, Russian state-run Gazprom said it was still "one digit" away from finalising a 30-year gas supply deal with Beijing which is expected to crown Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to China next week. On the heels of Russia's de-dollarization meetings, the coming week appears a crucial one for the history books of the US Dollar as reserve currency (or will China leverage Russia's need to diversify from Europe and stall the deal once again?)
As we have discussed in detail, Russia has been in talks with China to supply it with 38 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas a year for more than a decade but the deal has been postponed repeatedly over price disagreements. And as Reuters reports, last week, state China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) said that it and Gazprom had reached an agreement to sign a contract during Putin's visit but that the two sides had yet to iron out price differences.
Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller confirmed in an interview on state Rossiya 24 television that the talks were in the final stage and only centred around base price.
"There is just one question - it's ... a starting, base price in the price formula which, it's remarkable, has already been fully agreed upon with our Chinese partners," Miller told news show Vesti on Saturday with Sergey Brilev.
"It's a very little more - to put in only one digit, and a 30-year contract to supply 38 bcm of gas from East Siberia to China will be signed," said Miller.
The question is - of course - will the price disagreements once again spoil the party...
With tensions high with the West over Russia's role in the Ukraine crisis, Moscow is eager to divert some oil and gas from European markets, part of its wider push to Asia.
About 80 percent of Gazprom's revenue comes from gas sales to Europe and analysts say that failure to clinch a deal with China, the world's top energy consumer, would expose its huge reliance on Western consumers and might strengthen Beijing's bargaining positions in the months to come.
Miller emphasized that the contract would be signed on mutually beneficial terms, adding that the sides had also agreed to start talks on a second route for Russian gas supplies to China after the current deal is signed.
As we noted previously, quid pro quo:
"Observers expect both leaders to take a united stand on major international issues, and Putin may seek China's support on Russia's dealings with Ukraine."
And also on the dollar as we reported in "Russia Holds "De-Dollarization Meeting": China, Iran Willing To Drop USD From Bilateral Trade." In which case expect random Chinese space rockets to mysteriously explode during take off too.