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The sun was rising on a clear summer day in Moscow as I waited to meet my contact by the New Devil metro station in the suburbs of the capital of the Russian Republic. As I had taken the night train down from St. Petersburg and missed my breakfast, I was glad to see a trader from Azerbaijan selling fresh cherries in the shadow of the metro. A moment later, I met a senior professor from the Moscow Geological Prospecting Institute wearing a red baseball cap who would spend the rest of the day telling me about opportunities for Canadian companies in the Russian oil patch.
Talking about oil in two languages is thirsty work, believe me, no matter how much you wave your arms or draw diagrams of underground pools of oil. I sure appreciated the large cups of tea and the slices of tasty gretzsky/walnut cake leading up to a lunch that would put anyone in the mood to invest.
The Russian oil industry is interesting for several reasons. First, it is the largest producer of petroleum in the world. In 1989, the …