IN commercial breaks before, during and after tonight’s footie you will doubtless see adverts for Gazprom, the Russian gas producer, and wonder as I have: Why do they bother?
It’s hardly as if we can wander into the gas showroom and say: ‘We’re really keen on those nice ads with the classical music and ballet dancers so from now on it’s Gazprom or nothing.’
Yet since 2012 the company has shelled out countless millions of pounds sponsoring the European Champions League and Europa League club competitions, as well as Euro 2020 (come on, Ingerlernd!) So what’s in it for the Russians?
To find out, a while ago I emailed ‘Siberian’ Rhod Mackenzie, the expat Scottish CEO of Rusmininfo, which delivers news on Russian oil, gas, mining and metals.
He replied: ‘Given they are a client of mine I suppose I am in a good position to answer your question. Gazprom have the monopoly on the supply of pipeline gas to Europe from Russia and currently supply around 200billion cubic metres of gas via several pipelines.
‘That provides around 40 per cent of Europe’s needs but that might grow given the ending of the Dutch Groningen gas field which used to supply around 20 per cent.
‘The partners of Gazprom are all of the major European gas companies (they just deliver it via pipelines already in place although Wintershall of Germany and OMV of Austria are extraction partners in Russia).
‘Gas and energy in Europe are a political game particularly around Nord Stream 2 (another client) where the US is attempting to isolate Russia from Europe to sell its overpriced Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).
‘You actually (the UK) buy Russian Natural Gas if you have gas at all in the UK as it is supplied from Europe (UK buys a large amount of its gas from Europe) but pretends none of it is from Russia. It even buys LNG from Russia through intermediaries to pretend it does not buy from Russia.
‘I know I have gone on a bit but Gazprom is the largest gas company on the planet and it has 28 per cent of the world’s gas reserves (yes, 28 per cent).’
At the weekend I received an email from Rhod on musical matters which concluded: ‘BTW I was in Moscow last week and had lunch with senior executives of Gazprom and Nord Stream 2, and I asked them why Gazprom spends tens of millions on promoting itself at the Champions League and the Euro Championships?’
The reply? ‘To annoy the EU, and remind them that we are still the elephant that they cannot remove from the room in their dubious energy policy.’
Tee-hee! So there we have it. The ads are there merely to make the bloated Eurocrats choke on their foie gras. Result! Come on, Gazprom!