BERLIN/MOSCOW/BEIJING (Own report) – The privileged German-European access to Russian natural gas could be lost, is the warning, as the battle over the “Nord Stream 2” pipeline persists. According to a recent analysis published by Oxford University, western sanctions, imposed on Russia in 2014, have encouraged Moscow to seek alternative markets for its resources. China, in particular, plans to purchase large amounts of Russian natural gas. The first pipeline is scheduled to go into operation this year. A second pipeline – tapping the fields currently supplying gas exclusively to Europe – is in planning. The same applies to new Russian liquefied gas projects. In the future, “European customers” will most likely have to compete in Russia with “Asian customers,” the Oxford University analysis predicts. Instead of forcing Moscow to its knees, the sanctions could put an end to Berlin’s privileged access to Russian natural gas and if the “Nord Stream 2” fails, it could further worsen the EU’s position.
Despite the almost unprecedented divisive nature of Donald J. Trump’s presidency, he is chalking up some impressive foreign policy victories, including finally bringing Beijing to task over its decades long unfair trade practices, stealing of intellectual property rights, and rampant mercantilism that has given its state-run companies unfair trade advantages and as a result seen Western funds transform China to an emerging world power alongside the U.S.
Now, it looks as if Trump’s recent tirade against America’s European allies over its geopolitically troubling reliance on Russian gas supply may also be bearing fruit. On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that earlier this month German Chancellor Angela Merkel offered government support to efforts to open up Germany to U.S. gas, in what the report called “a key concession to President Trump as he tries to loosen Russia’s grip on Europe’s largest energy market.” Continue reading
BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) – German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has once again reaffirmed that the German government insists on continuing with the highly controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Despite persistent pressure from Washington, there will be no interference in the construction of the pipeline – which has long since begun – reiterated Maas at this years annual UN General Assembly in New York. At the same time, US efforts to promote the sale of US liquefied gas to Germany are stagnating. If the liquefied gas would be priced closer to the currently much cheaper pipeline gas, it could certainly be considered, according to the Uniper company (formerly EON). Uniper is currently contemplating the construction of a liquefied gas terminal in Wilhelmshaven. However, it would not even have one-fifth of the import capacity of Nord Stream 2. Plans for constructing a terminal in Brunsbüttel, which currently have the best chances of implementation, envisage the importation of only half as much LNG – primarily to fuel ships and trucks. Continue reading
The possible tightening up of U.S. economic sanctions against Russia may be treated as a declaration of economic war, which must be responded by all economic, political and other means possible, Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said during his visit to the Far Eastern Kamchatka Peninsula.
During his visit to the Kronotsky State Nature Reserve, Medvedev was asked what sanctions could be imposed on Russia in the future and how they can affect the country’s economy.
“I would like not to comment on the talks about future sanctions, but there is one thing I can say: if measures like a ban on banking activities or the use of this or that currency follows, this can be clearly be described as a declaration of an economic war. And this war will have to be responded – by economic, political and, if necessary, other means. And our American partners should realize this,” TASS cited the PM as saying.
The US Congress has revived the so-called “NOPEC” bill for countering OPEC and OPEC+.
Officially called the “No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act”, NOPEC is the definition of so-called “lawfare” because it enables the US to extraterritorially impose its domestic legislation on others by giving the government the right to sue OPEC and OPEC+ countries like Russia because of their coordinated efforts to control oil prices. Lawsuits, however, are unenforceable, which is why the targeted states’ refusal to abide by the US courts’ likely predetermined judgement against them will probably be used to trigger sanctions under the worst-case scenario, with this chain of events being catalyzed in order to achieve several strategic objectives. Continue reading
Taiwan, which has seen increased military exercises off its coast by Chinese forces this year, has just inked a major energy deal with a U.S. energy firm.
On Monday, Taiwan’s CPC Corp., a major LNG importer, announced a preliminary deal to buy liquefied natural gas (LNG) from U.S. based LNG producer Cheniere Energy for a period of 25 years. CPC signed a Heads of Agreement to purchase 2 million tonnes of LNG annually from the major gas exporter, which is gearing up to start exports from its second export plant at Corpus Christi, Texas. Continue reading
As China tightens the noose over Vietnam’s ability to drill for oil and gas in its own UN-mandated 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the country is turning to solar energy and other renewables to make up for lost ground.
Over the weekend, Singapore-based Sunseap Group broke ground on Vietnam’s largest solar farm, a 168-MW project in Ninh Thuan province. The $150 million project will become operational in June 2019 and supply more than 200 kWh of electricity to the national power grid annually, Sunseap said in a statement. Continue reading
Australia this week moved a step closer to becoming a real problem for Qatar on the LNG market, after the second floating production, storage, and offloading vessel for the Ichthys gas field reached its destination.
The Ichthys Venturer joins the Ichthys Explorer at the field operated by Japan’s Inpex, with the first LNG shipment from the field scheduled for next spring.
The Venturer has a capacity of 1.12 million barrels of gas condensate and will process, stabilize, and store condensate it will receive from the other FPSO, and then load it on tankers. Continue reading
Exports outweigh imports in February, April, May: EIA
The U.S. has been a net exporter of natural gas for three of the first five months of 2017, according to a note released by the EIA. This is historically significant, as February, April and May are so far, the only months in which the U.S has been a net exporter of natural gas since 1958. Continue reading
German energy company Wintershall, a European partner with Russia’s Gazprom, said the European energy sector can’t be used for “geopolitical football.”
President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed a bill into law that sanctions Iran, North Korea and Russia. The Russian measure in particular is significant given the election issue clouding the Trump administration. Continue reading
Seeking to diversify its gas imports away from Russia’s giant Gazprom, Lithuania’s state-held gas trader Lietuvos Duju Tiekimas said on Monday that it had signed a deal with Cheniere Marketing International to buy LNG directly from the U.S., adding to the growing list of customers of America’s LNG cargoes.
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.
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
The most significant geophysical event on our planet since the end of the ice age is taking place today—the opening of the Arctic. As the High North maritime environment warms, the Arctic Ocean’s abundant energy, minerals, fish stocks, and other natural resources are becoming increasingly accessible, while new potential maritime routes promise to reduce shipping times and costs and accelerate ties between major commercial centers. These new opportunities for energy development, natural resources extraction, and shipping suggest that the region risks becoming an arena of intense competition, tension, and potentially even confrontation, not only between the United States and its two near-peer strategic competitors—China and Russia—but also among other Asia-Pacific states with observer status in the Arctic Council. Continue reading
The first U.S. LNG shipment will soon arrive in Europe, marking a new era for energy on the continent. Cheniere Energy’s newly completed Sabine Pass facility on the U.S. Gulf Coast recently sent a shipment of American liquefied natural gas, which should arrive in Portugal within a few days.
“LNG coming out of the U.S. is probably the single most important thing that will transform the future LNG market,” Melissa Stark, energy managing director at Accenture, told Bloomberg. “It heralds the arrival of a global market.” Continue reading