An ogre of a giant looms to the east of Europe, occasionally in the shape of a country, other times in the shape of a company, the two often indistinguishable. Russia and Gazprom are poised to devour the whole of Europe and its Asian neighbors.
OAO Gazprom's influence has been underestimated and, astonishingly, often ignored. By far the largest owner of natural gas reserves and the largest supplier of gas in the world, six times as big as No. 2, Royal Dutch/Shell, the company currently provides over a quarter of Europe's natural gas, and is aggressively looking to greatly increase this share. Gazprom has been the flagship of former Russian President Vladimir Putin's strategy, and the battering ram to break down defenses against what can arguably be called energy imperialism. The Russian state owns 50.01 percent of the company, and almost all of its top executives are devout Kremlin loyalists. The current Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, was Gazprom's chairman. He replaced Putin, who became prime minister, replacing Victor Zubkov who became Gazprom's chairman. You get the picture.
Gazprom, springing from the old Soviet ministry of gas, has been huge from the very start, but after the 2004-5 dismantling of Yukos and Sibneft, Gazprom got into the oil business as well by taking over Sibneft, now called Gazpromneft.