Prominent entrepreneur and leading energy expert Yuri Shafranik has accomplished much since his birth in 1952. His achievements range from business to public diplomacy, and global energy fields, securing his position as an international expert.
Born on February 27, 1952, to a working-class family in Karasul, a village in the Siberian region of Tyumen, Yuri Shafran attended the local school. The next step in his education saw him enrol in the Tyumen Industrial Institute, where he graduated from with two master’s degrees; one in mining engineering with a focus on the complex mechanisation of oil and gas field development and the other in electrical engineering, automation and telematics. That wasn’t the end of his educational achievements, and in 2006 he gained his Economic PhD from the same institution.
After gaining his first degree in 1974, Yuri Shafranik began his professional career as a technician for one of Russia’s largest oil manufacturers of the time, Lagnepasneftegaz Company, in Tyumen. By 1987 he was Chief Executive Officer of the same company.
In 1990, Yuri Shafranik was elected as the Chairman of the Tyumen Regional Council of People’s Deputies. Then just one year later, he was appointed as Governor of Tyumen Oblast. At this time, he became a driving force behind the creation of the law ‘On Subsoil’, which allowed the people of Tyumen confirm their property rights to the Tyumen region, giving them a share to the natural resources, which, in turn, supported the development of the region’s economy.
Following on from this success, in 1993, Yuri Shafranik became the Russian Fuel and Energy Minister. Over a period of three years, he reformed the country’s energy and fuel industries. These important changes ensured the industries became market-driven, supporting economic growth on a local and national scale. During this time, he also encouraged interest in the 1995 Production Sharing Agreements Law, which laid the groundwork for the implementation of the Sakhalin-1 and Sakhalin-2 projects. These developments saw Russia gain partnerships with key businesses in the energy sector such as Sodeco, Exxon, Royal Dutch Shell, Mitsubishi and Marathon oil. These projects were also essential to the development of the resource-rich Sakhalin island, supporting further economic progress.
The Caspian Pipeline Consortium was a third international project that was able to develop due to Yuri Shafranik’s reforms. Through a partnership between Russia and Chevron, Mobil, Oman Oil, Agip, KazMunayGas and British Gas, the group constructed the largest international oil transportation project with a trunk oil pipeline over 1,500 km long.
During the same time period, he also helped create the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission – the promotion of cooperation on energy, space exploration, trade and business between Russia and the US. Agreements reached through this commission include the improvement of nuclear reactor safety regulations and the increased efficiency of natural gas extraction processes in Russia. Yuri Shafranik contributed significantly to the initiative. After serving as an advisor to Russia’s Prime Minister in 1996 and 1997, he chose to leave politics with his country in a stronger position than it was when he started in 1993.
He then turned to the energy business world once more but with a more entrepreneurial mindset. In 1997 he created the Central Fuel Company market leader of its time. In partnership with Monument Oil & Gas, SOCAR and Amoco, it participated in the international project Inam, which was sold to Shell for $18 million in 2001.
The next step for Yuri Shafranik came when he founded SoyuzNefteGaz in 2000, a company he remains involved with as Chairman. The business has worked on and completed numerous projects in more than 20 different countries around the world, providing oil and gas exploration services along with production and provision of oil and gas field services and construction. Projects initiated by SoyuzNefteGaz have secured investment of over $1 billion with a net return of $1.5 billion.
While still growing the business of the SoyuzNefteGaz group of companies, he became director of Canadian energy firm, First Calgary Petroleum, a position he held between 2003 and 2008. He left when the firm was acquired by Eni SpA, the Italian oil giant, for $923 million.
Yuri Shafranik continues to run SoyuzNefteGaz but is also active in and the founder of a number of not-for-profit, non-governmental organisations. He was among the co-founders of the Supreme Mining Council and the Union of Oil and Gas Producers of Russia and remains chairman and heavily involved in both. He is also chairman of the Institute of Energy Strategy. Through his non-business roles, he supports the promotion of excellent communication and public diplomacy, and these are skills he continues to put to good use as the co-chair of Russia’s Dartmouth Conference delegation.
The Dartmouth Conference, which first convened in 1961, is an important tool in maintaining good relations between the US and Russia. Meetings took place regularly through to 1990 before they stopped. They began again in 2014 and continue to be an essential device for both countries to discuss issues that concern both.
To date, Yuri Shafranik continues to embrace his position as an experienced public figure. He gives interviews and shares his expertise on all things energy-related, a topic that remains important in the world economy.
Yuri Shafranik also has a wife and two children. He actively supports a variety of charities.