By John Helmer, Moscow
Following the publication of yesterday’s report  on the case of Vladimir Yevtushenkov, an insider from the Russian oil industry has communicated this analysis of what provoked Yevtushenkov’s arrest, and what will happen next. The insider has had more than 15 years of experience working with Igor Sechin, now chief executive of Rosneft.
“The problem of Yevtushenkov is in his misunderstanding of what it means to own an oil company. He was given a right just to touch the object [Bashneft]; to clean and polish it; and then to hand it over to Sechin [Rosneft]. But Yevtushenkov decided that he was the real owner, and he started disputing with Sechin over the price of the asset. That’s something that is totally indisputable.The Ukrainian theory [of the case] is just camouflage.”
What then of the timing of the September 17 arrest, and its impact on the state banks, the government’s business ministers, and the other oligarchs? “This isn’t a case where there has been a loss of control at the top. What you see is a loss of measure, of judgement. Taking into account the latest speeches of Sechin about oil prices reaching $150, he is really out of reality.”
This is a reference to Sechin’s briefing of reporters on September 29 , announcing an oil strike at the Universitetskaya prospect in the Kara Sea: “The mature fields in use around the world are declining and this [Kara Sea] oil is high quality so the market should definitely give us the kind of price that justifies our investments…In five to seven years, Rosneft may be able to get $140 to $150 a barrel.”
Sechin has given this account of the pricing mistake Yevtushenkov had made when he acquired Bashneft in 2009, and when he tried reselling it: “The market was aware of the ‘skeletons in the closet’ for a long time. That is why we have never considered the possibility of buying the asset. But Vladimir Yevtushenkov is a very wise man, an experienced businessman. I think he weighed the risks when making a purchasing decision .”