Credit Russia's Yukos Oil Co. with a good PR move--and a smart strategic play. Its Western-oriented CEO, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, is arranging for a first-ever shipment of Russian crude to the U.S. in a tanker filled with 2 million barrels of oil. In part, it's a gesture of solidarity with the West in the wake of a drop in Iraqi exports, to 375,000 barrels per day, vs. an average of 1.7 million in 2001.
But Khodorkovsky's dream of Russia crude exports of a million barrels per day to the U.S. is at least three years away. That's because infrastructure improvements such as a deep-water terminal in Murmansk aren't yet in place. Still, Khodorkovsky's gesture is in sync with his efforts to secure partnerships with Western oil majors--and perhaps to sell Yukos at a fat profit. EDITED BY Edited by Rose Brady