Voice of Dissent?

Gazprom’s purchase of Sibneft has come under fire from a senior Russian government official:

“It is currently evident that Gazprom is systematically under-investing in strategic sectors such as gas production and pipeline reconstruction,” Deputy Economy Minister Andrei Sharonov told Reuters in an interview.

His comments are some of the harshest by a government official on the state-controlled player’s recent spending spree.

Last week, Gazprom said it was buying oil producer Sibneft for $13.1 billion from the owner of English soccer club Chelsea, Roman Abramovich, as part of a strategy to turn itself into a global diversified energy giant.

Is this token criticism for the purpose of maintaining the illusion that not everyone in the Russian government bows to their master’s voice, or is Mr Sharonov being sincere? Whatever the truth, any aspiring global diversified energy giant which doesn’t bother investing in pipeline integrity management is unlikely to get very far.