What the frack?
Gazprom, the Russian-owned energy behemoth, is suspected of funding anti-fracking protests in Eastern Europe, according to The New York Times. Russia reportedly sees fracking — a controversial drilling technology that has unlocked massive reservoirs of natural gas in the U.S. and elsewhere — as a threat to its domination of the European natural gas market.
Gazprom, a state-controlled energy giant, has a clear interest in preventing countries dependent on Russian natural gas from developing their own alternative supplies of energy, [Romanian officials] say, preserving a lucrative market for itself — and a potent foreign policy tool for the Kremlin...
This belief that Russia is fueling the protests, shared by officials in Lithuania, where Chevron also ran into a wave of unusually fervent protests and then decided to pull out, has not yet been backed up by any clear proof. And Gazprom has denied accusations that it has bankrolled anti-fracking protests. But circumstantial evidence, plus large dollops of Cold War-style suspicion, have added to mounting alarm over covert Russian meddling to block threats to its energy stranglehold on Europe. [The New York Times]
As the Times reports, the speculation has only been fueled by Russia's recent annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and its suspected support of rebels in Ukraine.