Saturday, February 24

the gas station of russian tanks

“The Lukoil Board of Directors expresses its deepest concern about the tragic events in Ukraine. We call for the prompt termination of the armed conflict, we express our sincere empathy for all the victims,” said an early riser in a statement on March 3.

Russia’s second largest oil company and its president, billionaire Vagit Alekperovthey wanted to distance themselves from Vladimir Putin and stay away from any blood spatter. But that same day 3 culminated a beginning of the month in which Lukoil had been sending more than 13,000 fuel drums a day to the Russian and Belarusian provinces bordering Ukraine, destined, above all, for the enormous deployment of armored personnel carriers, cars, helicopters and bombers ordered by Putin.

It is not, of course, gasoline for urban buses or family cars. According to analysts from Energy Intelligence, a veteran international consulting firm based in Washington, in this sad month of March the total shipments of the three largest Russian oil companies, Rosreserv, Lukoil and Gazprom Neft, to the border with Ukraine multiply by nine the average amount of kerosene shipped each day in the days of peace in 2021, and is eight times higher than the daily shipments of diesel last year. Lukoil has a large refinery, capable of turning over 310,000 barrels a day, in Volgograd, next to the troubled pro-Russian Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Lugansk.

Vagit Alekperov, 72, an Azeri native of Baku, moves in this contradiction. former Deputy Minister of Oil of the Soviet Union and president and largest shareholder of Lukoil, an emporium created from three Caucasian oil fields that fell into his hands when the USSR dissolved.

His profile is not complete without his current tribulation: he is the fifth in the list of main Russian oligarchs sanctioned with the freezing of assets by the United States Treasury Secretary, his main international clients are suspending imports of Russian oil, they boycott his gas stations in Italy and in the North American east and in a single day, the nefarious February 24, his fortune decreased by 17%, estimated by Forbes before the invasion of Ukraine at 24,900 million euros.

elite businessman

An extreme sports fan wanting to bet would have found Lukoil shares at 7,025 rubles on February 1, the day last month they peaked amid already a strong tension on the big Russian firms due to the imminence of the invasion. That action would have cost him 84.3 euros at the exchange rate of that day; today, that same action costs 4,915 rubles, 34 euros at the new collapsed rate of the Russian currency.

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The risky investor would have lost 40% of his bet. A similar qualitative loss of thickness now suffers Alekperov’s fortune.

On the morning of the 24th, after the attack on Ukraine began, Putin called Alekperov to his presence, along with 12 other Russian oligarchs.

Perhaps he feared it on the morning of February 24, when Putin called him to his presence. The Tass agency reports that 13 businessmen from the Russian economic elite came that day from different parts of Moscow to listen to the dictator’s reasons for invading Ukraine.

Alekperov was one of the irreplaceable people at the meeting, given the “parastatal” nature that the US Treasury attributes to its oil company.

Two days after meeting with Putin, as Russian missiles exploded in Ukraine and the threat of asset freezes reignited, and the “special military operation” could no longer be described as a blitzkrieg, the big gas station began taking precautions: at 1:21 p.m. his 70-meter yacht sailed from the port of Barcelona Galactic Super Nova length. Today the ship, built in Dutch luxury shipyards in days of wine and roses, reports to the international location system that it is anchored off the port of Tivat, in Montenegro.

Catalan business

Alekperov left the port of Barcelona, ​​but not completely. In Delta 1 the red logo of Lukoil shines, its last great visible business in Spain. There are 14 large tanks, and another 11 smaller ones, capable of storing 350,000 liters of hydrocarbons on Port de Lagos street.

The has Alekperov halfway with the Spanish oil company Meroil, in a mixed firm; It’s called Meroil Tank and it was registered twelve years ago now as a limited company. Each partner put 50 million euros to build the deposits; the Russians, through Litasco, a trading company based in Switzerland. In April 2012, Meroil and Lukoil inaugurated what promised to be a great oil hub for the port of Barcelona, ​​with a view to the Mediterranean and North Africa. Given its importance, the then president of the Generalitat, Alekperov, attended Arthur Mas.

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Alekperov’s man at Meroil Tank is an engineer, Nazim Suleymanov, who was awarded the Honorary Oil Worker by the Putin government in 2020. It began in fact in the same refinery in Baku, in 1989, where its boss trained. Some of the images of the war that are now being served on the news will sound familiar to Suleymanov, since he ran the Lukoil installations in the now besieged port of Odessa during the year 2000.

Spokespersons for the Catalan company Meroil, who chairs Joseph Louis Porteassure that since that inauguration in style there has been no more activity in the tanks than storage, and that today in those containers “barely 5% of Russian hydrocarbon is saved.”

“They were built to rent storage space, and the russians do not managethey only participated in the capital”, assures that source, although on the board of the joint venture a mere observer does not sit, but rather the main man of confidence of the Azeri oligarch for operations outside Russia.

Friend of the king and friend of Lukoil

Artur Mas is not the only influential man Vagit Alekperov has met in his business dealings in Spain. In December 2008, when Lukoil was fighting with Banco Santander, Caja Madrid, Calyon and CitiBank to subrogate a credit for which Sacyr had 20% of the Spanish oil company Repsolthe most important meetings were not held in Madrid, but in London.

The same Mexican friend and patron of King Juan Carlos mediated for Lukoil’s entry into Repsol

And not just because the Russian oligarch had residence there. The man who acted as mediator for the Russian oil company in the talks with the banks and the construction company also has his office: the Mexican financier Allen Sanginés-Krause.

The same man who provided Juan Carlos I with some of his intimate retreats in Ireland, the same man who advised the king against his relationship with Corinnethe same as financed opaque cards used by the king emeritus and part of his family for all kinds of expenses, it was the pivot of the conversations between Russians and Spaniards.

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Sanginés-Krause is one of the high finance agents of the West with the best agenda of Russian oligarchs. He did it to him being the Russia boss at Goldman Sachswhen the reign of Vladimir Putin began its heyday.

The takeover operation of Repsol by Alekperov was frustrated. He then caused similar mistrust of the Government of Spain than the one that, twelve years later, began to raise and raises today another movement of the oil oligarch in the orbit of Spanish strategic interests.

Russians from the north, Russians from the south: in May 2020, Lukoil signed a MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the Algerian public firm Sonatrach. that company is which supplies Saharan gas to Spain. It is the same firm that has signed another memorandum of understanding with Repsol and two other Western partners for the Reganne North projectwhich searches for hydrocarbons and gas in 1,800 square kilometers of desert.

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It was the same year that an invasion of Ukraine, a nuclear threat and a cutoff of Russian gas supplies from the north were not conceivable, and the same year that Lukoil once again showed its role as a tool for Putin’s army. On October 19, Alekperov signed an industrial cooperation agreement with Sergey Chemezovanother oligarch, director of the Russian state corporation Rostec.

Rostec is one of the largest military emporiums in the world. Chemezov commands a conglomerate of 700 companies in the Russian defense industry, including the legendary Kalashnikov rifle factory, or RH, the manufacturer of attack helicopters Russians who see in the dark, the black aircraft against which these days of March the Ukrainian resistance directs its rocket launchers, hidden in the rubble.

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