Russia to build controversial artificial islands in arctic for gas industry

A Qatari-flagged LNG tanker crosses through the Suez Canal. Photo: Reuters

 

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signs agreement on construction, though analysts puzzled as the location is far from natural gas field

Russia plans to build four artificial islands in the arctic Barents Sea to serve the natural gas industry, though analysts are puzzled by the location as it’s far from a gas field, while environmentalists warn of pollution dangers.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed an agreement on June 17 to build the islands in Kola Bay of the Barents Sea at an estimated cost of $420 million. They are expected to come into use from 2020. Continue reading

Germany, Austria vs. US Senate: America and Europe on Collision Course

 

Germany and Austria have lashed out against US Senate for approving a legislation tightening sanctions on Russia. The bill has a provision that enables the United States to impose sanctions on European firms involved in financing Russian energy export pipelines to Europe. European companies could be fined for breaching US law. In a joint statement, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern accused the US of threatening European economic interests, describing it as an illegal attempt to boost US gas exports. The United States recently started shipping liquefied natural gas to Poland and has ambitions to cultivate other European customers.

The bill says the US government «should prioritize the export of United States energy resources in order to create American jobs, help United States allies and partners, and strengthen United States foreign policy». But the European foreign chiefs believe that «Europe’s energy supply is Europe’s business, not that of the United States of America». Gabriel and Kern said they «can’t accept» proposed US sanctions targeting European energy companies as part of measures against Russia.

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Is A Russian-Iranian Energy Pact In The Making?

Oil Rigs

 

In the lead-up to President Rouhani’s visit to Moscow, expected to take place in late March, a plethora of news regarding joint Russo-Iranian energy projects has been circulating on the Internet. A three-year long negotiation process regarding a 100,000 barrels-per-day swap contract is believed to be agreed upon, premised on Iran providing Russia (most likely, Rosneft) oil from Kharg Island or other hubs in the Persian Gulf in return for cash and Russian goods that Iran would “require”. Teheran also woos LUKOIL, currently Russia’s only major oil producer in the Caspian, to participate in swap deals bound for Iran’s Neka Port (in return for Iranian crude provided from Kharg Island or other Persian Gulf hubs), albeit on a much smaller scale at 4000 to 5000 barrels per day. To top it all up, numerous Russian oil companies have committed themselves to developing Iran’s hydrocarbon fields. Continue reading

Putin Grooms a New Generation of Leaders

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Featured in Bloomberg Businessweek, Sept. 12-18, 2016. Photographer: Jeremy Liebman for Bloomberg Businessweek

 

The Russian president is removing old allies and replacing them with young loyalists, likely ensuring his leadership will continue until 2024.

After 16 years in charge, Vladimir Putin is shaking up his team to cement his control into the next decade. The 63-year-old leader is pushing aside some longtime allies and grooming young lieutenants—many of whom share his background in the security services and aren’t old enough to have worked under any other leader—to form a new generation of Kremlin leadership. One of them could even become his successor one day. Continue reading

Trump Would Consider Recognizing Crimea as Russian Territory

Donald Trump said Wednesday that he would look into recognizing Crimea as a Russian territory should he be elected president in November.

Trump responded to a question about Crimea and Russia at a news conference Wednesday, saying that he “would be looking into” recognizing Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula as a Russian territory and lifting sanctions on Russian entities resulting from the country’s military intervention in Ukraine in 2014, Politico reported. Continue reading

Business with Obstacles

BERLIN/MOSCOW/KIEV (Own report) – Berlin is taking steps to possibly end sanctions against Russia. Today, almost one year after the signing of the Minsk II Agreement – whose full implementation is still considered as a prerequisite for ending the sanctions – the Bavarian Prime Minster, Horst Seehofer is expected to arrive in Moscow for talks on promoting the renewal of German-Russian business relations. Seehofer can build on decades of Bavarian-Russian cooperation. His visit to Moscow is closely coordinated with Germany’s federal government. The EU and NATO are also involved in Berlin’s cooperation efforts. Monday, Chancellor Angela Merkel also increased pressure on Ukraine’s President, Petro Poroshenko to finally obtain approval from Kiev’s parliament for the constitutional amendment providing Eastern Ukraine’s special status, as agreed upon in the Minsk II Agreement. Until now, nationalists and fascists have prevented this measure.

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Seven Warnings To Donald Trump About Vladimir Putin

The likely next President of The United States might want to check in with journalists who were beaten by the Putin regime, such as Yuriy Yatsenko, who testified before the US Helsinki Commission. Trump is a great businessman and can certainly make great business deals, but national security and his awareness of how much of a psychopath Putin is might be his weak points — especially the latter.

On the economy, he also might be too little, too late, come 2017. If you’re wondering when the economy is going to crash and want to play the “estimate a date” game, try 2008. America has been in free-fall ever since. It’s only when you hit bottom that the fun beings. Having said that, one can only hope he can handle the tasks ahead of him, because no matter who gets in, they’ll likely preside over the worst era in America’s entire history — maybe world history due to the magnitude of the incoming crisis. As the adage goes: It’s not a matter of if, but when. The Obama administration is kicking the economic can down the road for the next President, and likely leaving a few poison pills behind to hinder the next President’s ability to act.

If what’s in the article regarding the attacks in Russia interests you, then more on Putin, Yeltsin and the KGB’s (FSB) links to the deliberate apartment bombings in Moscow (and three other cities) can be found under the following previous post:

Fear This Man

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Donald Trump should heed seven red flags when considering how to respond Vladimir Putin’s flattery. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

Vladimir Putin’s praise of Donald Trump as “a very outstanding man, unquestionably talented” has been reciprocated by Trump’s calling Putin “a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond” that they “would get along very well.” Trump has shrugged off warnings of Putin’s perfidy by citing lack of proof that Putin “kills journalists, political opponents and …invades countries.” Only the naïve would know there will be no such proof when the Kremlin controls prosecution, justice and the secret police. Putin’s hybrid warfare and its plausible deniability complicates proof of crimes against the international order, despite obvious Russian military engagement in Georgia and Ukraine. Continue reading

Russia stops gas deliveries to Ukraine

Russian state giant Gazprom on Wednesday said it had halted gas deliveries to Ukraine after Kyiv failed to make upfront payments for more supplies.

Gazprom chief Alexei Miller said that as of 0700 GMT Ukraine’s Naftogaz had used up all the gas it had paid for and “no new upfront payment has been made”. Continue reading

Russia May Stop Gas Supplies to Ukraine in Two Days

TEHRAN  (Sputnik) — Russia could stop gas supplies to Ukraine this week, as Kiev’s prepayment is sufficient to cover deliveries for about two days, Russia’s Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller said Monday. Continue reading

Saudi Fears Over Emerging Russia-Iran Energy Nexus

Any weakening of Russian support for Mr. Assad could be one of the first signs that the recent tumult in the oil market is having an impact on global statecraft. Saudi officials have said publicly that the price of oil reflects only global supply and demand, and they have insisted that Saudi Arabia will not let geopolitics drive its economic agenda. But they believe that there could be ancillary diplomatic benefits to the country’s current strategy of allowing oil prices to stay low — including a chance to negotiate an exit for Mr. Assad.

That’s a quote from a New York Times article that ran in February of this year.

At the time, we pointed to the piece as evidence that yet another conspiracy “theory” has become conspiracy “fact” as it effectively served to validate (to the extent The New York Times is validation) the thesis that at the end of the day, this is all about energy. Continue reading

German-Russian Flagship Projects

KASSEL/MOSCOW (Own report) – The German natural gas company, Wintershall Holding GmbH, is intensifying cooperation with Russia’s Gazprom and will receive direct access to large Siberian gas fields. Last Friday, the two companies announced they would finalize an asset swap this year, which would allow Wintershall to participate in the exploitation of two blocks in the Achimov formation of the Urengoy natural gas field. The deal had been signed back in 2013, but was canceled by Moscow in late 2014, because of the escalation of the conflict with the West. This resumption enables BASF’s subsidiary, Wintershall, to continue its rise in the global gas sector. The Austrian company, OMV, since July 1, under the management of former Wintershall CEO, Rainer Seele, is also participating. Gazprom, Wintershall, OMV and other gas companies have agreed to expand the Russia-to-Germany “Nord Stream” pipeline with two more pipelines. German business circles explicitly describe both as “flagship projects” and push for a rapid re-intensification of cooperation at the political level.

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Russia Taking Full Advantage Of Greek Crisis

In the meantime, the turmoil offers an opportunity for Russia to advance its interests. Of course, the EU is an absolutely critical trading partner for Russia, so if the bloc starts to fray at the seams, that presents financial risks to an already struggling Russian economy. Russia’s central bank governor Elvira Nabiulllina warned in June of the brewing threat that a Greek default would have on Russia. “We do consider that scenario as one of possible risks which would increase turbulence in the financial markets in the European market, bearing in mind the fact the European Union is one of major trading partners, and we are definitely worried by it,” she said in an interview with CNBC.

With the economic fallout in mind, Russia does see strategic opportunities in growing discord within Europe. First, Russia is pushing its Turkish Stream Pipeline, a natural gas pipeline that it has proposed that would run from Russia through Turkey and link up in Greece. From there, Russian gas would travel on to the rest of Europe. Russia is vying against a separate pipeline project that would send natural gas from the Caspian Sea through Turkey and on to Europe. Continue reading

Germany and Russia Back to Business as Usual

Yet more signs that the two are working together

Is the cold war between the West and Russia over Ukraine finished? For the United States certainly not. But Germany, and therefore much of the European Union, are returning to business as usual.

On June 22, the EU voted to extend sanctions against Russia. Yet in other areas, the relations between Germany and Russia are improving.

The biggest sign of this is the Nord Stream gas pipeline between Russia and Germany. That’s an important story in its own right—read Robert Morley’s article “Gazprom’s Dangerous New Nord Stream Gas Pipeline to Germany” if you’ve not done so already. The two countries have teamed up on a project that allows Russia to cut off gas to any Central or Eastern European country it wants to, while keeping its lucrative contracts with Western European customers intact.

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War Drums: Gazprom’s Dangerous New Nord Stream Gas Pipeline to Germany

Does the latest Russian-German deal reflect the spirit of Molotov-Ribbentrop?

Russian state-owned gas giant Gazprom signed a deal June 18 to double the capacity of the Nord Stream gas pipeline that delivers Russian gas directly to Germany. The deal is a precursor to war.

Analysts are wondering: Why would Germany continue to work with Russia’s Gazprom when it is supposedly targeting Russia for its invasion and occupation of Ukraine?

When asked how he convinced Germany’s E.ON, Austria’s omv and British-based Royal Dutch Shell to do business with Gazprom, chief executive Alexei Miller said: “As far as Nord Stream is concerned—there was no politics at all. The decision was taken in November 2011, and all the work has been done based on the decisions taken three years ago.” Continue reading

A New Problem For Greece Emerges: How To Do the Russian “Unpivot” After Capitulating To The Troika

While Greece is collectively scratching its head why Tsipras et al were at loggerheads with Europe for 4 months, during which time the Greek economy entered a recession and saw its banks not only depleted of all cash but become de facto wards of the ECB, just to reach an “agreement” that could have taken place back in February, and attention shifts to just how Tsipras will pass last night’s impromptu capitulation through hard-line leftist parliamentarians, Greece now has another problem: how to unpivot the aggressive pivot toward Russia in the past few months, which culminated with the signing of an energy deal last week in St. Petersburg.

It goes without saying that if Greece is scrambling to go back into the Troika’s good graces, Belgium will make it very clear that any overtures to Putin are to be “cease and deceased” (sic) immediately. Which opens a can of worms for the Marxists in government: how to slam shut the door to their ideological Plan B, when everyone knows the Grexit fiasco will repeat again in a few months, and Greece will again be knocking on the Kremlin’s door. Continue reading