When Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin spoke at the Davos Economic Forum
he appeared to be taking on a new role as salesman for his country's energy resources.
While Putin paid lip service to the renewed interest in alternative energy and the logical need for diversification of energy imports, he reminded the forum that Russia has a wealth of hydrocarbon resources.
Coming in the wake of the Russian-Ukrainian gas dispute, ultimately Putin was practicing damage control.
He sought to persuade energy consumers that Russia is a reliable source of oil and natural gas and listed the pipeline projects that could carry oil and gas to Europe and Asia.
He devoted some attention to liquefied natural gas, vowing Russia would improve its ability to produce and transport LNG to ports anywhere in the world.
The message on these exports was "direct delivery," no more intermediaries, and as few transit countries as possible between Russia and consumers of its gas and oil.
With the price of oil
already about one-third of the record price it hit in July 2008 and the price of natural gas expected to follow soon, Russia has already been forced to replan its budget for 2009 to reflect the huge losses in tax revenues from the country's energy-producing companies.
Putin the salesman had a simple and direct message
in Davos: don't forget about hydrocarbons that have been the basis of industry for more than a century now and when you look to buy, buy Russian, we have everything you need.
-- Bruce Pannier