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In early February, we take a Russian S7 Airlines plane from Moscow to Novy Urengoy, Russia’s gas capital in Western Siberia. The flight takes nearly three-and-a-half hours; we fly over an endless desert of snow almost the entire time. Every now and then, a small settlement or the glow of a gas flare appears in the dawn. Without the propusk, the permit that identifies us as guests of the gas extracting company Gazprom and that opens many doors, our journey would have come to its end at passport control. The city is closed to foreigners. You need a special permit from the energy company in order to visit it. We made countless requests to Gazprom, we inquired again and again, until the head office in Moscow finally gave the go-ahead.

What was the motivation for a journey to this city in the Arctic Circle, which offers not so much attractions as large industrial facilities and where the weather is far from pleasant? The mutual interdependence of Western Europe and Russia resulting from imports and exports of natural gas and the weighty position of Gazprom receive regular attention in politics and the media. The emphasis is usually on the consequences this dependence has for the consumers at the European end of the gas pipeline. However, the circumstances of the gas production and the living conditions of the people at the source in Western Siberia are barely ever discussed. How do the people of Novy Urengoy live, here in this city that is completely dependent on natural gas resources and where life is dictated by the big corporation?

In the parking lot in front of the airport, a digital display shows 45 degrees below zero. One’s glasses ice over in seconds, and it hurts to breathe. A driver from Gazprom is already expecting us and takes us to the Hotel ‘North Star’. In the following ten days, we want to get to know the company town and experience as much as possible of its everyday life.


GAZPROM CITY – a report about life at the other end of the gas pipeline

Sophie Panzer, Christina Simmel


by Suzanne Bontemps, Sophie Panzer
and Christina Simmel;
with a glossary by Gertrude Saxinger

German / Russian / English
Paperback, 136 pages

ISBN 978-3-902833-80-8

Download Info – ENGLISH Download Info – РУССКИЙ Download Info – DEUTSCH

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